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Under (and Traveling To) the Boardwalk

May 31, 2017
It’s thought that the first boardwalk in the United States opened to the public in the late 19th century, in Atlantic City. The idea of combining entertainment of one form or another with beautiful beach views may have existed previously, but it was there, in New Jersey, where an American summer totem was born.

Mitch-Stuart loves setting up donors with summer vacations worthy of postcards and “How I Spent My Summer” papers upon return to school. Our non-profit fundraising auction travel packages can send your supporters around the world, and during the summer some of our favorite destinations have amazing boardwalks to explore.

For families, Old Orchard Beach checks off all of the requirements of a great boardwalk. There’s the Palace Playland, with its carousel, slide and bounce house for the kids. For adults, the pier has its own nightclub. And for everyone, the restaurants serve some of the freshest seafood around including Maine lobsters (which are worth the trip all by themselves!). And all of this is just an hour and a half from Boothbay, and almost exactly the same from Boston.

The boardwalk at Venice Beach is colorful in a way that only California could be, from its open-air gym to its Snapchat glasses vending machines (a rare collision of Muscle and Silicon Beaches). At around 1.5 miles, the Venice Beach Boardwalk is lined with artists and street performers, restaurants and cafes, and every type of tchotchke dealer one could seek. And it’s steps from the gorgeous beaches of both Venice and Santa Monica (the latter connected to the boardwalk area by bike and walking path). It even has its own elevated view, with the rooftop lounge at Hotel Erwin acting as an observatory deck for those who want to see the colorful craziness from a birds-eye view.

Is Navy Pier a boardwalk? Well, who says you need an ocean? In Chicago, Lake Michigan substitutes for the Atlantic or Pacific, and the 101-year old boardwalk and pier has become a center of all things Chi-town. Giordano’s is on premises for those seeking the famous deep dish pizza, while Riva Crabhouse provides an upscale seafood experience. Dining and sightseeing cruises are constantly departing from the Pier, as well, and the landscaped green surrounding it all gives visitors a chance to picnic on a warm day. Beyond Wrigley Field, there may be no attraction in Chicago that appeals to such a wide swath of the city’s visitors.

When it comes to this quintessentially American class of attraction, though, Coney Island may be the one that comes to mind first. This New York institution, back at full strength after being battered by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, welcomes hundreds of thousands of tourists and locals each year. As seen in countless films, the Ferris wheel here has become a symbol of the New York beyond Manhattan’s skyscrapers. On the ground, classic fair food is in abundance, along with the sorts of carnival games and attractions that may scratch that nostalgic itch for your donors.
Old Orchard Beach

Venice Beach

Navy Pier

Coney Island


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More Memorial Day Getaways

May 24, 2017
This year, more than 39 million people will get on the road for the Memorial Day weekend, according to AAA, the most in 12 years. And not all of them can go to the three destinations we highlighted three years ago here on the blog.

While Mitch-Stuart’s non-profit travel packages can be used throughout most of the year, we’re partial to creating Memorial Day trips to remember. And while Seattle, Southern California and Florida are still excellent choices for celebrating the three-day weekend, they are, by no means, the only destinations worthy of consideration:

There is never a bad time of year to visit New York; even in the dead of winter, there’s so much to do and see. But the Big Apple makes this list for two reasons: Springtime, even if it’s late spring, is always a time of high spirits, thanks to locals being able to trade coats for sunglasses, and Fleet Week begins. The annual celebration of the Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Corps features the Parade of Ships, Meet the Pilots question-and-answer sessions, and even air shows featuring Naval and Marine aircraft. Even for New York, the energy on the streets during the festivities is peaking.

Las Vegas lives for three-day weekends, and Memorial Day weekend is no exception. The city comes alive with visitors, especially from nearby Los Angeles, and every restaurant, nightclub and resort puts its best foot forward. And while it’s hard to point at any individual event as being only for the holiday weekend, the massive number of shows in the city mean there’ll be plenty to do.

Visiting the south during the Memorial Day weekend makes perfect sense. Getting to the Sun Belt before the more oppressive summer heat arrives in June. That’s true for Charleston, one of our favorite cities, with an average high temperature of 85 in May, against 90 in July. Maybe as importantly, the lows in May still get down to 63 degrees, making evening walking tours extremely comfortable. And with Memorial Day weekend also being the kickoff of Spoleto Festival USA, which brings artists from around the world to South Carolina, there’s plenty to do while enjoying the weather’s last hospitable days.


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Swiss Army Knife Destinations

May 10, 2017
Triple threats. Renaissance men or women. Swiss Army Knives. We have plenty of names for them, but they all come back to the same idea: People who are versatile, who have skillsets larger than one discipline.

We have Swiss Army Knives in fundraising auctions, too. Those are the items that can attract bids from anyone in the room, the types of lots that encourage activity from all corners. They can be the most lucrative, because of the number of aspirants, and certainly can be the most fun.

And often, they’re travel packages.

There are some locales in our catalog of non-profit fundraising auction travel packages that cater to so many different constituencies, they become indispensable auction items, the type that get everyone in the room involved. If you don’t have an idea in what your big-money donors are interested, or you just want a location sure to please the widest base of donors, consider one of these options.

Los Angeles: Even with all the high-minded literature and the sheer number of films made about the City of Angels, Steve Martin may be the one to get Los Angeles right in “LA Story,” when a character calls it “a place where they've taken a desert and turned it into their dreams.” The beaches to the west and the mountains inland, the bustle of downtown Los Angeles and the small town feel of Larchmont Village, the exhibits of newest museum The Broad and the silliness of the iconic Laugh Factory, downtown’s architecture and Elysian Park’s Los Angeles Dodgers: Any city the size of L.A. will have to contain multitudes.

Paris: The City of Lights is thought of often as the home of tremendous landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe. While that’s true, the city has a tremendous number of sides to show. Paris’ gourmand credibility has never been questioned, of course, and the cocktail renaissance is growing as well. It’s a home for culture, both high (the Louvre) and pop (the nightclubs of the city are commonly filled). And sports fans get to see one of the best soccer teams in Europe, Paris Saint-Germain, ply its trade.

New Orleans:
The city of Bourbon Street and the French Quarter is also the city of Frenchman Street, one of America’s hallowed grounds for jazz. It’s the capital of Creole cuisine, for the gumbo fans, and the birthplace of the Sazerac and the Hurricane. From an architectural standpoint, it’s a fascinating place, with examples of buildings and homes in nearly every major style since the 18th century. It’s a city that hosts three major festivals each year: Mardi Gras, the New Orleans Jazz Fest and Essence. And in the fall, the New Orleans goes crazy for the NFL and its Saints. No matter the donor or supporter, there’s always something to do in the Crescent City.


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New Destinations, New Adventures

May 01, 2017
The calendar keeps turning, and with it the seasons; we’re now in the midst of spring, which means at home it might be time for a cleaning. Here at Mitch-Stuart headquarters, though, instead of taking items to Goodwill, we find ourselves adding new trips to our Destinations of Excellence catalog. It’s our chance to refresh our offerings and make sure that we have the once-in-a-lifetime, bucket list-type experiences for which you donors will want to place the biggest bids.
 
What’s new at Mitch-Stuart?
  • If your donors have picked up a travel magazine in the last year, it’s likely they’ve seen an article about Reykjavik. The Icelandic capital came in second in one travel search engine’s list of most popular destinations, and one photo of the iconic Northern Lights will remind your supporters why.
  • Luxurious accommodations are the name of the game for our new trips to Belize, Sedona and Jackson Hole. Whether it’s taking in the beaches of the Caribbean/Central American gem,  off-roading in Red Rock Country, or going on a wildlife safari in Grand Teton National Park, your donors will return to top-notch luxury in the evening, balancing nature with pampering. 
  • Get local with attractions that can only be found in specific destinations. There’s only one Space Coast, and our newest trip to Cocoa Beach involves not just two-day admission to the Kennedy Space Center, but lunch with an actual astronaut. And ask any New Yorker: There’s only one city for the country’s best deli food, and we’ve got a tour of three of the best.
In addition, we’ve got brand-new options for Napa Valley (one involves a barn – really!), a cozy stay on the coast of Maine, a city-and-country combo in Canada and even a professional photo shoot with Paris a backdrop.
 
Want to find out more? Reach out to a Mitch-Stuart travel expert today! Give us a call at 800-574-9991 or send an email to info@mitchstuart.com
 

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Alternative Sun

March 08, 2017
For every vision of a beachside paradise, there’s someone who imagines trying to get the sand out of a bathing suit. For every cold drink, there’s a sunburn. And for every relaxing waterside read, there’s the specter of corralling the kids for the drive to the shore.

One of the reasons that Mitch-Stuart offers such a wide range of non-profit fundraising auction travel packages is because one size – or one destination – does not fit all. While many are drawn to our selection of beachside escapes, with trips to the Caribbean, Southern California and Hawaii, there are some who still want to get some sun without having to deal with the beach’s drawbacks. For those sand-averse donors and potential bidders, here are some alternative pathways to Vitamin D.

Why would one go into the ocean when one can float above it? Cruises combine the sun and relaxation of a beachside vacation with the creature comforts not always accessible along the surf.  Whether it’s sailing between islands in the Caribbean or navigating the Mediterranean Sea, riding a modern ship gives donors access to the best sunbathing, while also allowing for gourmet meals. And if a small taste of beach time is desired, there’s always a chance to get some sand in one’s shoes when disembarking at one of the ports of call.

Neon isn’t the only light that can be found in Las Vegas, and visitors get to soak up that Vitamin D in multiple ways. The resorts of the city have a tremendous network of pools, each catering to a different taste; some of them are non-stop party scenes (“daylife” as it’s called in Sin City), while others are more relaxing and meditative. But what doesn’t get as much attention is the number of opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts within a small drive of the Strip. Hiking through Red Rock Canyon is a favorite pastime of the sporty Vegas resident, and Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon are each comfortable day trips. The best part: After a day outside, your donors can soak their feet and get a massage at one of the city’s many spas.

Finally, if there’s anything more relaxing than sitting by the pool, taking in the sun, it’s receiving a massage at the same time. Many luxury resorts offer poolside spa services, allowing visitors to get outside and find their bliss simultaneously; the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, for instance, has an adults-only pool and group exercise activities in the natural light of the resort’s atrium, along with a spa-only menu of healthy cuisine served poolside. Combining Vitamin D therapy with wellness programs gives guests a stress-free glow – maybe the best souvenir to bring back to the real world.


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Eye-Catching Hotels

March 01, 2017
It can be easy, when thinking about beaches in far-flung places and tickets to glitzy events, to remember that the first question any of your donors will be asked about their fundraising auction travel package will be, “where are you staying?” Even in the most attraction-filled destination, travelers spend a plurality of their time in the hotel – much of it asleep, sure, but it’s also the respite from the craziness that travel can bring. And sometimes, that home-away-from-home carries as big a name as the nicest restaurant or most exotic location.

Whether it’s the tickets to the big game or the transfer to or from the airport, Mitch-Stuart gives attention to every detail of its non-profit fundraising auction travel packages. That’s especially true of where your supporters will be staying at the destination, and it’s why we deal with some of the highest-rated hotels in the world. But there are three names in particular from our catalog that stand out even to the less-experienced traveler, iconic hotels that have the type of reputations you can use to help drive up bids.

It’s hard to visit Los Angeles and not set foot somewhere that’s been used as a location for a film, of course, but the Beverly Wilshire is iconic for its place in silver screen lore. “Pretty Woman,” “Beverly Hills Cop” and even the television show “Entourage” have called the hotel home, and after the cameras have stopped, stars like Elvis Presley and Warren Beatty have lived in between its walls for extended periods. And along with its stature, the hotel is home to a top-of-the-line spa (a recent recipient of the Forbes Five Star award, in fact) and a Wolfgang Puck restaurant, along with being a short walk from the shops of Rodeo Drive.

In London, the first-ever luxury hotel still may be the best. The Savoy Hotel opened in 1889, with of-the-time extravagances like electricity and hot and cold water in each room. Needless to say, the industry standard has upped a bit, but The Savoy has more than kept up; a renovation estimated at more than $300 million took place between 2007 and 2010. The result, according to most who have been, is old world elegance and service, but with the amenities the modern traveler requires. Of special notice: Afternoon tea in the hotel’s Thames Foyer is a must-do (and included in our “Stay at the Most Iconic London Hotel – The Savoy” package).

But ask anyone on the street for the name of a famous luxury hotel, and the first response is most likely to be The Plaza. The New York landmark has 110 years of history, including being namedropped in iconic literature like “The Great Gatsby” and appearing in “Annie Hall.” It also may be one of the most accidentally-photographed hotels in the world; its address makes it a dramatic backdrop for the beauty of neighboring Central Park. It even became the name of a major international treaty: the Plaza Accord, which dealt with currency rates, was signed there in 1985.


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More Than a Game

February 01, 2017
On Sunday, the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons will face off in Super Bowl 51, to a television audience in the nine figures, along with more than 70,000 in-person spectators. The entire week leading up to the game, football will be inescapable, with the NFL Experience fan zone already underway and overwhelming media coverage clogging every outlet. It doesn’t sound like a place for the non-football fan to go.

However, it turns out that the attention of the sports world focused on one city becomes quite a magnet. While the week’s festivities may be leading up to the big game on Sunday, the array of music, food and revelry on offer goes far beyond football.

Mitch-Stuart is proud to offer a trip to the Super Bowl as one of its non-profit fundraising auction trip packages. Our “Winner Takes All at the 2018 Super Bowl” trip includes four days and three nights in Minneapolis for next year’s championship game, and while football will be the focus of the outing (thanks to two tickets to the game), there’s plenty more to do wherever the Super Bowl is taking place.

How do you fill your non-stadium time? How about…

The Parties: Wherever the Super Bowl goes, exclusive soirees usually follow, with celebrities and open bars aplenty. But not every get-together in the lead up to the game is guest-list dependent. This weekend, for instance, the Big Texas Party (with barbecue, local beers and celebrity guest appearances) will draw both the pigskin addict and the food fan, while raising funds for local charities. Between benefit brunches and late-night revelry, it’s possible to attend a party at the Super Bowl morning, noon and night for almost a full week.

The Music: The jocks and the band kids may not have mingled much in high school, but it’s no longer a Super Bowl without a list of major concerts. Musicians from around the world descend on host cities to play for large audiences (and in some cases, large appearance fees paid by brands anxious for the publicity). This weekend, acts like Solange, Leon Bridges and ZZ Top will all play for free at the Discovery Green in Houston. And for those with some contacts and some favors to call in, invite-only shows are a Super Bowl weekend tradition; Taylor Swift will be playing this weekend at the DirecTV party, a celebration that has, in the past, played host to Dave Matthews and Jay Z, among others.

The Food: Super Bowl host cities are almost always hubs of foodie culture. That’s more an accident of location and size than a planned correlation, of course; any event that goes to places like New Orleans on a regular basis has to incorporate local cuisine in some way. But the NFL has made sure to draw culinary influences in from around the country; the yearly Taste of the NFL event brings together more than 40 of the nation’s top chefs, with at least one from each city with an NFL team. It’s a way of letting your tastebuds travel the country, all in one place – and, for one year, without the goopy queso dip at your friend’s Super Bowl party.


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The Rise of Bleisure

January 25, 2017
Type “bleisure travel” into Google, and the search engine may try to correct your spelling. It is not a graceful portmanteau, and in a way it represents the exact opposite of its meaning: Business travel that is either expanded for or planned to include leisure travel elements (in the combined word, it looks like it’s the business that’s tacked on).

For donors who might not feel they have time to take a “full,” week-long vacation, offering them a chance for a weekend stay in a city in which they may already be working combines convenience with relaxation, and makes them active participants in any non-profit fundraising auction. If, instead of planning work around a weekend away, your supporters can simply skip the return flight and have some unencumbered fun in a new city, it may inspire more of your gala attendees to consider bidding on a travel package (and more bidders often means a higher closing price).

Want to offer some of your donors a chance to extend those business trips? Here are some thoughts on how to capitalize on the trend.

A Weekend Away:
Bleisure travelers are different than the regular business travelers, who are often ready to come home immediately after finishing their work (if not sooner). But even if the business traveler does want some extra time to explore a city, they’ll have already been away from home for a few days. A weekend trip makes perfect sense: Work for a couple of days, then spend a couple more days having fun.

Cities to Consider: If you’ve got some donors who may be interested in bleisure travel, then picking the right destination is important. While we adore destinations like Bali and the French countryside, your donors may not be taking too many meetings during poolside yoga sessions or winery tours. Places like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco, of course, are common destinations for business travel, while Las Vegas may be the convention capital of the world.

Evergreen Events: Some of our travel packages are notable for taking donors to our Destinations of Excellence™. Others find their biggest value in tickets for specific events, like the Super Bowl or an awards show. But if you want to attract bleisure donors, make sure your trip has access to a tremendous attraction that happens year-round. Think, for instance, about a trip with a food or beverage tour (like the pizza tour that comes with the “Leave a Pizza Your Heart in Chicago”), or maybe one with a round of golf or two included. A trip that works for business travelers is one that they can use no matter when work calls.


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Raffles on the Road

November 16, 2016
We love galas. The pomp, the fancy menus, the gorgeous, decked-out venues, all of it – including, of course, the fun and excitement of a fundraising auction. But we also recognize that it is a ton of work to throw one; when your organization is responsible for everything from set-up to tear-down, it can stretch the resources of even a larger non-profit.

The good news: If you’re looking for a fundraising opportunity without throwing a gala event, or your in-person fundraiser is still months away, we can help.

Mitch-Stuart puts together non-profit fundraising travel packages for events big and small, and ever since we added raffles to our repertoire of tools, you don’t even need your own soiree in order to send a donor on a once-in-a-lifetime trip.

Need a way to raise money beyond the gala auction?

Join the Arts: If your non-profit is an arts organization, like a theater or ballet company, it’s a no brainer to offer raffle tickets in the lobby and even add a purchase form to your program. If your charity isn’t? Pair with one, and offer to split the proceeds! You’ll both raise money and gain an ally in future efforts.

A Partner’s Party: Is your non-profit close with a local business – maybe an area law firm, advertising agency or other corporation? See if you can set up a table at their holiday party or summer barbeque! It gives the company a fun attraction for their celebration, and it gives your charity access to potential new donors and a fundraiser that doesn’t need extensive planning.

Nowhere: For that matter, who needs a venue at all? Offer your donors a chance to win a trip to any of our Destinations of Excellence® from anywhere. Raffle tickets can be purchased over the phone, by email or even online, and since your audience isn’t limited by geography or venue, this type of fundraiser can bring in big bucks.


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Guest Post: Take a Chance on a Raffle!

June 29, 2016
(NOTE: On occasion, we love reaching out to our friends and partners in the non-profit fundraising world to find out what theyre thinking about when it comes to helping charities raise the most money possible. This week, Kelly Russell tells us about a recent experience running a raffle using a Mitch-Stuart travel package as the prize. Enjoy!)

A client of mine wanted to offer a Golden Ticket Raffle at their event without losing one of their live auction items. They tried something unique that worked well. They chose eight consignment packages from Mitch-Stuart, Inc. as options, and allowed the winner to select any one of the eight amazing vacations. We had a few great outcomes to our evening.

It expedited our timeline at the top of the auction.

Once we declared the winner of the Golden Ticket Raffle, we did not have to wait for the winner to rifle through the catalog to determine what they wanted to take out of the live auction line-up. They had the entire night to think about which location would make for their dream vacation.

The variety added interest.

With all the options, many people were interested in taking their chance in the raffle. If you won, you were going somewhere great. MSI has a wonderful selection of packages and many include airfare so you get a complete experience. This adds to the interest factor.

Dedicated packages allow for pre-sales on raffle tickets to guests.

Nothing is worse than not being able to attend your childs school auction when you go EVERY year. With a set raffle selection, you are at least offering the opportunity to participate in absentia. Bonus: If you have a limited number of tickets to sell in your raffle, as well as a limited number of attendees at your event, pre-sales broaden your donor base.

Gamble with a new idea and see how it works at your next fundraiser!

Need a great consignment package for your next event? Let the folks at Mitch-Stuart, Inc. know that Kelly Russell at Artisan Auctions sent you!

(Big thanks to Kelly Russell and Artisan Auctions for sharing this with us! For more information about Artisan, go to artisanauctions.com.)


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Beyond the Slopes

January 27, 2016
For some, skiing is the most thrilling activity imaginable on two planks of wood: The speed, the adrenaline, the rush of careening down a mountainside with the wind whizzing past. For others, it seems like the easiest way to book a vacation in a local emergency room.

Offering a ski-themed fundraising auction travel package can make a lot of sense for organizations, especially those based in warmer climates. But if you want to widen your trips appeal, make sure to point out the non-skiing based fun that can be had in many of our favorite winter wonderlands.

In Colorado, the Rocky Mountains attract bicyclists throughout the summer months, taking to the hills in search of good workouts and downhill sprints. But just because the winter months bring snow to the ski runs doesnt mean that bicyclists have to hang up their helmets. Visitors to the city of Telluride, for instance, can take the Telluride Brewing Company Tour, with a fat tire bike tour of the surrounding valleys floor, finishing with a tasting at the titular brewery. The wider-than-normal tires grip the ground better, meaning increased traction and safety in even the most treacherous of conditions. The tour is a beautiful way to enjoy the bracing cold of the season, then immediately warm up with a pint of beer.

Weve written at length about the reasons that Jackson Hole makes for a great getaway, but one of our favorite options for vacations during the Wyoming winter is a cold-weather safari. Local tour guides take visitors out into places like the National Elk Refuge and Grand Teton National Park, looking for everything from waterfowl to wolves. And with the guide doing the driving, everyone on the vacation can relax and sightsee, rather than one unlucky person having to drive. Bonus: No trip photo may beat that of a donor, standing out on the Antelope Flats, with mountains in the background and bison or other animals roaming nearby.

For those who still want to strap something to their feet, a trip to Whistler may be in order, where the infrastructure left in place from the 2010 Winter Olympics has created a surplus of ice rinks upon which to skate. Pose for group photos on the surface of the rink in the Olympic Plaza, for instance, with the five rings of the Olympic Games still standing in the background, or head indoors to the Meadow Park Sports Centre to find an NHL-sized sheet of ice and instructors ready to help teach neophytes. And if being out in nature is a priority, the Whistler area has a number of lakes that, during the winter, freeze over enough to support skaters (check local safety guides, of course). Skating in circles, with the gorgeous backdrop of British Columbia, can be every bit as satisfying as speeding down a mountain.
Telluride
 
Grand Teton National Park
 
Fairmont Chateau Whistler


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Gather the Family

November 25, 2015
Today is one of the busiest travel days of the year for a reason: Thanksgiving is a holiday that is best spent surrounded by loved ones, carving up a turkey/ham/tofurkey and slipping into tryptophan-induced comas. Almost 47 million Americans are estimated to be hitting the road for the celebration. But what if your donors could take the festival of thanks with them and bring their families along?


Mitch-Stuarts non-profit auction travel packages can send couples on getaways around the world, but it can also take the entire family to a destination worthy of a feast. With in-accommodation kitchens, your donors can cook a fantastic holiday dinner or, in some cases, even have a private chef do it for them!

Some examples of great holiday season destinations for the family, from our Destinations of Excellence catalog:

Crested Butte: If sitting around a roaring fireplace is a go-to Thanksgiving tradition for a donors family, a trip to the Colorado mountains might be in order. Our Crested Butte Promises a Superb Alpine Adventure package includes a stay in a two-bedroom condominium steps from a ski lift at the base of Mt. Crested Butte, with an in-unit fireplace and fully-equipped kitchen. Guests can either prepare their own Turkey Day feast with groceries gathered by the resorts personal shopper or head to the Alpine Club and make reservations for dinner at one of the resort towns fantastic restaurants.

Cancun: Of course, its often easier to let someone else handle the cooking while on the road. Our Family Paradise in Mexico package can send a family of four (two adults, two children) to a oasis-like Palace Resort in Cancun for an all-inclusive retreat. That includes a kids club for childrens diversions, four swim-up bars for the parents, $1,500 worth of golfing or spa treatments and gourmet dining. And if the menu at one of the resorts doesnt meet your supporters wishes, that donor can head to any of the other Cancun Palace Resorts to see what theyre whipping up in the kitchen.

Cortona, Italy: Those looking to really leave the beaten path behind, meanwhile, can head to Tuscany for a stay in a Cortona villa. Packages like Under the Tuscan Sun and Villas, Views and the Valdichiana include accommodations for up to six people, and each of them also involve an in-villa cooking class and meal. See what a proper Italian chef would do to a Thanksgiving feast, and you may never go back to turkey and mashed potatoes again!




Crested Butte

Palace Resort in Cancun

Italian Villa

Italian Villa


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A Travel-Worthy Thanksgiving

November 18, 2015
Thanksgiving is one of Americas favorite travel holidays: AAA projected that more than 46 million Americans would travel more than 50 miles from their residence in 2014, and with gas prices still low, that number may increase this year. Many of those hitting the road at this time of year are heading to visit parents or grandparents in hometowns around the country. But at Mitch-Stuart, Inc., we believe that home is wherever the family is and that means that home can be anywhere.


Many of our non-profit auction travel packages do not have holiday blackout periods, meaning that your supporters can win a trip at your gala fundraiser and use it to take the family somewhere new for the holiday. And with travel-worthy Thanksgiving events sprinkled throughout the country, that winning donor can create a new holiday tradition for his or her family out on the road.

Any conversation of Turkey Day traditions has to start with the Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade. Starting in 1924, the procession makes its way through Manhattan with balloons, floats, and performers from pop music acts like Nick Jonas and Idina Menzel. From living rooms across the country (which watch the parade live on NBC) to the sidewalks of New York City, the parade may be the single most-witnessed Turkey Day event. Its a great place to send donors, as well, either for them to take in the nostalgic charms of the Snoopy balloon in person or to allow them to introduce a younger generation to the wonder of these skyscraper-sized blimps.

Of course, after the floats are put away in NYC, Thanksgiving can sometimes become about the three Fs: Food, Family and Football. Luckily, Mitch-Stuart can help with one of those as well. We can send supporters to any regular season football game in the country, and that includes the traditional Thanksgiving Day games in either Detroit or Dallas. In Motown, the Detroit Lions have played a home game on every Thanksgiving since 1945, while the Cowboys have suited up for all but two Turkey Day games since 1966. For either, we can get your donors in lower level seats for all the action.

Not every tradition is sedentary, though. For many people, getting outside is a popular part of the holiday, too, whether its a family touch football game in the backyard or a leisurely hike. Almost 1,000,000 Americans participated in a Thaknsgiving Day trot or fun run in 2013, according to the Wall Street Journal, and it seems like small towns and big cities alike are hosting everything from 5Ks to marathons. One of the oldest of these also takes place in one of our favorite Destinations of Excellence, New Orleans, where the Athletic Club Turkey Day Race has been held for an astounding 107 consecutive years, making it one of the oldest non-marathon races in the country. It features a five-mile run for adults and even a half-mile race for kids, with all of the proceeds going towards Spina Bifida of Greater New Orlean.




New York Macy's Day Parade
 
New York Macy's Day Parade
 
Dallas Cowboys Stadium
 
NOAC Turkey Day Race


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Giving Tuesday: How We Can Help

November 04, 2015
First, it was Black Friday, the traditional first day of the Christmas holiday season, taking place the day after (and, increasingly, the day of) Thanksgiving. Then, Cyber Monday became a way for people returning to work to procrastinate on the following Monday by looking at deep discounts from online retailers. Soon after, to counteract the marketing power of major chain stores, there was Small Business Saturday, to promote local concerns.

And now, to help Americans remember the thousands of worthy and important non-profits that rely on donations, theres Giving Tuesday, which falls on December 1 in 2015. After the first days of holiday spending are finished, a day is reserved for lending a hand to those who help in local communities and across the nation. Its both a celebration and, if used properly, a chance to kick-start the end-of-year fundraising drives. More than $50 million was raised on the day in 2014, according to several of the major non-profit sector donation processors.

At Mitch-Stuart, were best known for our non-profit fundraising auction travel packages, which charities can offer on a consignment basis during galas and other events. But there are ways to utilize these money-raising tools on Giving Tuesday, as well, that will both make a donors once-in-a-lifetime travel dreams come true and bring in a chunk of change to be used to fund good works.

One of our most recent programs can make Giving Tuesday fundraising a breeze. By setting up a Mitch-Stuart Travel Raffle, you can give your donors a chance to buy tickets, in many cases online (where permitted by local laws), for a chance to win a fantastic trip package. Organizations can make it a one-day frenzy, where tickets are only available on Giving Tuesday itself, or they can sell tickets for weeks in advance and do the drawing on December 1. Either way, using the extra publicity of Giving Tuesday to help promote the raffle can lead to more tickets sold and more funds raised, all without planning and executing a gala or event.

Of course, with Giving Tuesday in such close proximity to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, many potential donors may still be in purchase mode. If youve got a list of big supporters that you think may be interested in buying individual trips, we can work with your organization to offer a Mitch-Stuart travel package at a buy it now price. It allows the donors to take the guesswork out of how much theyll have to pay for that weekend trip to the beach or once-in-a-lifetime adventure, while also allowing you to piggyback on the season with a more traditional shopping experience.

A Giving Tuesday promotion doesnt have to end on that specific day, either. If your organization has an upcoming gala or major fundraising event, you can make December 1 the official first day of ticket sales, too, getting an extra signal boost from the pseudo-holiday. And if youre planning on offering Mitch-Stuart travel packages at that future event, you can also utilize some of our promotional collateral available for each individual trip.

Want to pump up your Giving Tuesday fundraising? Reach out to a Mitch-Stuart travel expert today!
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Vacations for Ghost Hunters

October 28, 2015
The Halloween season is a time for frights, be they on the big screen, the trick part of trick-or-treating or the unholy abomination that is budget candy corn. For people who are big into the holiday, though, it is also a time to get on the road and check out some of the spookiest sites in the world. Some of those attractions are manmade, like the events we profiled last year. But others stem from a combination of tragedy and a certain suspension of disbelief that can make people believe they are seeing ghosts.


Mitch-Stuart doesnt feature any specific ghost-hunting trips in our catalog of non-profit fundraising auction travel packages. However, several of our Destinations of Excellence can also act as home bases for those looking for restless spirits. For those looking for the scariest of Halloweens, one of these places might be hospitable.

It was an opera house in Paris that once housed a phantom in its basement, so it should be no surprise that the City of Lights has its share of haunted tales. The citys catacombs are one destination for ghost hunters, with the remains of more than six millions Parisians there, often arraigned into macabre art. The Red Man of the Tuileries, a notorious hitman for the royalty in the 16th century, is said to still patrol the Louvre, and even the Paris Opera, the setting for fictional Phantom of the Opera, has a real-life ghostly visitor in the form of a love-struck woman, just outside its doors.

A little closer to home, the spirit of Hollywood pervades much of Los Angeles. But the spirits of Hollywood can be found at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, across from the TCL Chinese Theater (and the famous sidewalk handprints). A mirror there that used to hang in the suite of Marilyn Monroe supposedly shows the reflection of a blonde woman in the background, while Montgomery Clift (of From Here to Eternity and Judgment at Nuremberg fame) is said to walk the ninth floor. The stories are so woven into the fabric of the building that the hotels website used to have a section devoted to the tales.

Even places considered to be bright slices of paradise can find themselves possessed by spirits. Honolulu doesnt seem like the type of place that would be ghost-friendly, but residents claim that it has its own history with the supernatural, in locations like the Old Waialae Drive-In Theater (located close to a cemetery, and said to have been visited by a faceless woman haunting the restroom), the 16th Avenue bridge (site of a hit-and-run, the victim of which still appears to some) and even the Green Lady, an apparition who has been spotted everywhere from Scotland to New England.

Want to send your donors on a wild ghost chase? Reach out to a Mitch-Stuart travel expert today!
Louvre, Paris, France
 
Paris Opera House
 
TCL Chinese Theater
 
Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell at Chinese Theater


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Whats New for the Winter

October 21, 2015
Throughout the year, the staff of travel experts at Mitch-Stuart is busy setting up organizations with opportunities to raise funds using auction travel packages for non-profits. But during down moments, those same people are scouring the world, looking for bigger deals, interesting destinations and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.

(Yeah theyre busy folks.)


For the October update of the Destinations of Excellence catalog, weve put together a plethora of new travel packages. Some go to our favorite spots, with new options. Others expand our footprint to new areas. But each one can help your charity bring even more money through a gala auction or a fundraising auction.

Some highlights:

One of the biggest updates to our catalog for the winter comes in lodging capacity. Weve expanded our villas and residencies offerings to offer more trips with larger living spaces. Send up to six people to Aspen, for instance, and stay in a three-bedroom residence at the North of Nell, right at the base of Aspen Mountain. Send a supporter and three family members or friends to a Tuscan villa, a luxury residence in Los Cabos, or even a two-bedroom residence in London. There are now more opportunities than ever to give your donors a chance to bring the entire family on vacation, organize a guys-or-girls getaway, or partake in any other group travel outing.

Of course, the winter catalog is always a great place to look to find trips that give donors a chance to sample the seasons charms. Whether its ski-in/ski-out mountain access in Park City and Deer Valley, Utah or snowmobiling and winter wildlife in Jackson Hole, even the most committed summer lovers will find reasons to head into the beauty of the winter snow.

Weve spoken at length before about why now is the best time to travel to Europe, and weve added three more opportunities to do just that. An arts tour of the French Rivera, a ride on the London Eye and a trip to the Van Gogh Museum are great reasons to head to Monaco, London and Amsterdam, respectively, and each package can bring in big bids to your fundraising auction.

Some of your donors may want to escape the winters chill a little closer to home, as well, which is why weve added golf adventures in San Diego, California and Scottsdale, Arizona, along with trips to the charming Asheville, North Carolina and the always-temperate St. Helena, California, near Napa Valley.

Want to check out all we have to offer? Reach out to a Mitch-Stuart, Inc. travel expert to talk about our new options, or register for online access to our catalog today!
Los Cabos Villa
 
Hyatt Escala Lodge at Park City
 
Napa Valley Cabin
 
Fairmont Grand Del Mar


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Dont Skimp!

September 30, 2015
There a lot of pressure placed upon fundraisers, especially event planners, to keep costs down when planning a gala or special evening. After all, the theory goes, the less money spent on the event, the more the organization will get to keep. But what if, by skimping in some areas, you were actually costing your organization money, rather than saving it?

Mitch-Stuart, Inc. loves setting up its non-profit partners with consignment auction travel packages to raise money for worthy causes, and we particularly love it when they sell for the biggest amounts possible. In order to do that, though, its important to spend money in the right places and for the right reasons. Here are three places where a little extra investment at the gala can pay off in bigger bids and more donations.

If a live auction is a part of the program, make sure that a professional benefit auctioneer is in charge. While the job may look like just speaking fast and taking bids from the outside, an experienced auctioneer can bring in bigger bids and keep audiences engaged in ways that amateurs may not even be able to identify, much less duplicate. Everything from between-item banter to voice inflections when recording bids can help loosen up a room and encourage everyone to get involved, and the people who spend their lives doing this are naturally going to be better than a volunteer.

Yes, you could set up a playlist on a streaming website or through your phone. Or sure, you could get a particularly talented family member to play some piano. But good live entertainment at an event is a critical component to keeping attendees engaged, whether its a comedian doing a short set, a live musical performance or a DJ playing in the background during the dinner. Getting the audience laughing or dancing can be a big step towards getting them bidding, too, and the pros in these areas know how to read a crowd and tell the right joke or play the right song for the moment.

After a gala, theres still opportunities for fundraising, based on follow-up solicitations. Make those next-day and next-week emails look even better by having a professional photographer document your event. Hiring an experienced shutterbug will allow you and your staff to focus on connecting with donors individually, while the pro runs around (usually with camera equipment well beyond the price range of the average picture-taker) and makes sure that the memories created over the course of the evening are captured forever. Having these professional photos will help sell tickets to future events, as well, making it an investment that pays for itself.


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Fall-Infused Galas

September 24, 2015
The seasonal signposts are everywhere: Leaves are changing, days are getting shorter, and evenings are getting cooler. Fall is here, and with it comes a new color palette, a new climate and a new feeling.

Our specialty, of course, is setting non-profits up with once-in-a-lifetime travel packages for fundraising auctions, and we told you about some of the best ones for fall galas a few weeks back. But were also always here to help incorporate new ideas into your fundraising auctions and galas, whether its cuisine pairings or recycling themes and branding. If your organization has an upcoming event, here are a couple of ways to stand out by using the beauty and spirit of the season.

Fall galas have a full color palette with which to play, one that feels out of place at other points in the year. Soft oranges and browns, yellows and even forest greens are all in play, and can give an event a feeling of timeliness. From there, the type of gala will dictate the decorations, of course; a black-tie affair probably doesnt need cutout leaves (or real ones!) throughout the room. But even lining the entryway to a ballroom with lights and colors matching the season can put attendees in the right frame of mind for the evening.

One of the newest fall traditions for many is trips to the local chain coffee shop for "pumpkin spice infused drinks. And while that name is a misnomer 2015 is the first time that Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte will include any actual pumpkin theres no question that spices like cinnamon and nutmeg are essential to fall cooking. There are plenty of places for those fall tastes at your gala, as well. A dessert course is an easy place to start, with a traditional pumpkin pie or pudding. One fun idea: If your event will involve alcohol, there are several cocktails that involve combinations of pumpkin, maple syrup and whiskey or bourbon.

Finally, never overlook location when it comes to fundraising events. While it can be tricky to plan around seasonal weather, getting your donors outside for a fun twist on a gala can create lifelong memories ones that are most closely associated with your cause. How about an event in an actual pumpkin patch? Or maybe a traveling gala, one that rolls on hayrides? Even setting up in a local park, surrounded by the changing colors, even with a cold snap in the air, can brand a gathering in a way that will make supporters want to come back every year.


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Getting Off the Boat

September 16, 2015
There are plenty of reasons that travelers enjoy cruises: The open waters, the beautiful views, the amazing amenities. Theres so much to do on a modern ship that it can be hard to remember that these cruises also visit spectacular ports of call, all around the world.

We love setting up donors with non-profit fundraising auction travel packages that take them out onto the open seas. But what often catches our eyes when it comes to selecting cruises is not just the boat itself, or its amazing cuisine, but what opportunities there are for travelers to leave. Excursions are often considered optional by cruise lines, but theyre required to make the most of an adventure. Some of our favorites:

Standing on observation decks stories above the ocean is a great way to travel, but sometimes people want to get down into the water itself. Its icing on the cake if that water happens to be the Mediterranean Sea, and if the way to get to it is through a beach on Crete, or the red and black sand beaches of Santorini. Yes, the Savor the Majestic Mediterranean trip package involves plenty of amenities on its own, but adding some beach time on one of the jewels of Southern Europe can only result in happy donors.

Not every excursion needs to be water-based, of course. Swimming in the North Atlantic Ocean while cruising between Boston and Nova Scotia might be a bit cold for most, so your donors can stay dry and consider one of the trips walking tours. The best way to learn a new city is very often pounding the pavement, and trips through Bar Harbor, Maine and Saint John, New Brunswick will introduce travelers to the unique architecture and vibe of each destination. And if the walking gets to be too much, supporters can let horses do it, on a wagon city tour of Portland, Maine.

Of course, the most all-encompassing excursion might come with our cruise packages to the Bahamas, where Royal Caribbean has literally set up its own island. Meet Little Stirrup Cay or as it is now known, CocoCay. With snorkeling, swimming, parasailing and waverunner rides available to passengers, this miniature (less than a mile wide and only about 200 yards long) isle combines the curated experiences of a planned vacation with the adventure of regular off-ship adventures. It even has activities for the kids, as well, including Caylanas Aqua Park, a floating playground.
Cruise
 
Cruise
 
Celebrity Solstice
 
Coco Cay


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Falling For Travel

September 09, 2015
Kids are back in school, work is picking up and the holidays are not far off. It can be tough to clear a few days in the months of September or October to hit the road, especially for people who are either just coming off of a summer vacation or are planning to travel for Thanksgiving or Christmas. But traveling in the fall has plenty of benefits, including less-crowded destinations, great weather, and the colors that only occurs with the change of seasons.

At Mitch-Stuart, Inc., weve got fundraising auction travel packages for every season. Caribbean beach vacations make great summer getaways (or snowbird escapes for the winter), and the Rocky Mountains are perfect for winter skiing excitement, but we never want to neglect the fall especially for those non-profits with galas during that time. Want to offer a great of-the-moment travel opportunity? Read on.

One of the first thoughts that many have when it comes to fall travel is New England. The tradition of leaf peeping, or visiting the northeastern states to see the leaves on the trees changing colors, has been around for decades and is an economic boon to the region; the picturesque vistas created by the season bring more than 2.5 million visitors to New England every fall, according to Boston Magazine. Our Boston-area trips, like The Best of Boston Revealed, make for excellent home bases to discover the fall foliage.

If seeing the seasons change in just one location seems limiting, donors can take in the views from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, as well. With stops in Boston, cities in Maine and the east coast of Canada, supporters can sit back and allow the captain to show the way to the most serene sights of fall. The Voyage Through the Vast Waters of the Atlantic trip package may be the way to cover the most ground from the epicenter of the season and when the day is over and the leaves have been peeped, donors can retreat to a veranda stateroom, 24-hour room service and daily entertainment.

The eastern seaboard doesnt have a monopoly on gorgeous fall weather and scenery, though. The Pacific Northwest can be a stunning region to visit in September and October, especially for donors who dont mind a little (or a lot of) rain. Whether its a trip to Washingtons Snoqualmie Falls with our Raise a Toast to the Pacific Northwest package or walking around Vancouvers Stanley Park (which, at more than 1,000 acres, is larger than New Yorks Central Park) while on our Sensational Seattle and Vivacious Vancouver journey, therell be plenty of gorgeous sights. The sheer number of trees changing color may be smaller than in the northeast, thanks to the prominence of evergreens, but mixing in aspens and birches make for a rainbow of natural hues.
Boston, MA
 
Nova Scotia
 
Nova Scotia
 
Snoqualmie Falls


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Introducing: Mitch-Stuarts Raffle Packages

September 02, 2015
Were excited to introduce a new way to incorporate Mitch-Stuart, Inc.s catalog of once-in-a-lifetime travel opportunities into your non-profits fundraising plans. Now, along with adding excitement and the allure of a luxury vacation to your gala charity auctions, or selling multiple trips to the same destination via a buy it now option, we can also help you reach out to donors and supporters of all ages, income levels and even tastes with a raffle using our travel packages as grand prizes!

With a raffle, non-profits can get a larger percentage of their bases to buy in to supporting a cause, whether it is in person at an event, by mail or online. Instead of trying to get big bids out of a subset of your donors, organizations can get everyone to participate.

So, why create a fundraising raffle?

  • It allows supporters who may be able to attend a gala, but not be fiscally able to bid on a silent or live auction item, a chance to participate and give what they can. It can be easy to get caught up in the big ticket, big bid items at a fundraiser, but 100 people giving $20 is the same as one person giving 2,000.
  • It can be done in conjunction with an event, or separate from one. Now, charity auction fundraising doesnt have to happen once a year. Raffle tickets can be purchased by mail, online or in person, and it doesnt need to involve catering and theme decorations.
  • Its FUN! The anticipation, the chance to win, the dreaming of what one could do on a Caribbean cruise or a trip to the Super Bowl a raffle can add excitement to any auction event and get the whole room involved. Raffles help maximize results by getting people engaged while donating to your cause. They can even involve large target audiences like family, friends, neighbors and co-workers, as gala attendees often buy tickets for those not in attendance.
  • Raffles can raise incredible amounts of money for your organization. You can easily raise $10,000 and, when tied to galas and events, you can exceed $25,000 and raise as much as $100,000 or more all at no-risk!
  • Its easy. Give us your price range, and we can give you a list of trips that would be hits with your crowd. You can raffle off one trip or give your winner a choice of three different adventures, which will attract a broader audience and sell more tickets.
There are as many variations of a charity raffle as there are travel opportunities in our catalog to choose as prizes. For more information on this exciting new opportunity, reach out to a Mitch-Stuart travel expert today!


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Labor Day: The Underrated Travel Holiday

August 26, 2015
Everyone loves Memorial Day. The final Monday in May marks the unofficial beginning of summer, and is one of the busiest travel holidays of the year; AAA estimated that more than 37 million Americans would use the three-day weekend as a chance to get out of town, while the U.S. Travel Association estimated that those travelers would spend more than $12.3 billion on their trips.

But the unofficial end of summer rarely sees such numbers and, accordingly, such hype. With families concentrated on getting school-ready and everyone else nursing sunburns, Labor Day is often used as a three-day breather before heading into the fall.

But it doesnt have to be that way.

At Mitch-Stuart, Inc., we specialize in sending your organizations donors and supporters on once-in-a-lifetime trips with our non-profit fundraising auction travel packages. That includes trips to celebrate Memorial Day, July 4th and even Thanksgiving or Christmas in far-flung locales. But we also love giving your donors the chance to win a summer send-off trip, a weekend away to gather thoughts and prepare for the upcoming seasonal shift. If youd like to offer such an opportunity to your supporters, may we suggest

Washington, DC? By the beginning of September, the worst of the summer humidity is over but the winter chill hasnt set in yet. Its a perfect time to walk around the monuments, catch a baseball game at the gorgeous Nationals Park or visit the Smithsonian museums. Even better, the DC area is home to several Labor Day events, including the free Labor Day Capitol Concert, which takes place on the lawn of the United States Capitol.

Napa or Sonoma Valley? Harvest season is in full swing by Labor Day, and the local wineries often have season-exclusive events that occur during prime picking time. Gatherings like the Sonoma Wine Country Weekend involve winemaker lunches, barbecues and the signature Taste of Sonoma event, with more than 200 wineries pouring thousands of wines. Its a great weekend adventure for parents looking for one last 72 hours of sanity before the fall begins.

Colorado?
Most people think of the Rocky Mountain State as a fantastic winter skiing destination, but those slopes also make for great hiking and mountain biking during the summer. Cities like Aspen and Telluride live the outdoor life year-round, but are much less crowded when theres grass on the ground rather than snow. Without skiing to draw people to town, many of these cities also offer more cultural events; Jazz Aspen Snowmass, for instance, is a three-day musical wonderland, this year featuring acts like indie rock favorite Hozier, disco kings Chic and even the Count Basie Orchestra.
Washington DC
 
United States Capitol
 
Napa Valley Sign
 
Telluride, CO


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Privacy, Please!

August 18, 2015
Most people love going on vacation, but thats not to say there arent annoyances that pop up while on the road. Whether its long security lines at the airport, navigating a foreign city in a different language or trying to squeeze one more stop into an already-packed itinerary, travel has its share of inconveniences. One of the biggest of those challenges is waiting in long lines at popular tourist destinations around the globe, sweating or shivering on a sidewalk while trying to get into an exhibit, a restaurant or a monument.

The good news: No matter how popular a destination, Mitch-Stuart can help. Our fundraising auction travel packages take donors around the world, of course, but they can also help supporters skip the lines for unique, private experiences in some of our favorite cities.

Some examples:

While the types of resorts with which Mitch-Stuart deal with arent the sort to have thin walls or other inconveniences associated with over-crowding, travelers still find it nice to be staying on their own on occasion. In two of our favorite international destinations, that privacy is also given a luxurious upgrade. The Under the Tuscan Sun package comes with a seven-night stay in a stunning, five-bedroom private villa in a restored 16th century Italian manor, along with a private driver and even one evening with a private chef. In Southeast Asia, meanwhile, the Balis Breathtaking Beauty package includes seven nights at the Bali Double V Villa, with three bedrooms and a private pool.

Getting away from crowds isnt just for retiring for the evening, either. Anyone who has ever stood in a long line at a tourist attraction knows that long wait times can cut into not just the enjoyment of the sight being seen, but also curb the number of sights that can be seen. In a city like Paris, it can be tough to escape the mobs of visitors unless traveling on one of our trips to the City of Lights. We can send your supporters on private, evening tours of the Louvre, led by guides who can transform a simple walk around an exhibit into an engrossing history lesson, all while checking out the works of da Vinci, sculptures from Greece and Rome and even early Egyptian art. For those more interested in getting outside, a private nighttime tour of the citys famous sights may be in order. It includes a cruise along the River Seine and a gourmet dinner, as well.

Along with long lines, the winery tours in Californias wine country can also involve some unfortunate encounters with those whom have overindulged. Cut them out of the picture with one of our private winery tours, available on several of our vino-based trips. Donors can ride in chauffeured luxury sedans between stops, and the entire itinerary can be based around their personal preferences. One of our favorite packages, Indulge in the Ultimate Wine Country Excursion, even includes a private lunch with some of the regions vinters themselves, meaning that supporters can combine drinking and learning.

Want to help your donors avoid the crowds? Reach out to a Mitch-Stuart travel expert today!
Bali
 
Louvre
 
Paris
 
Sonoma


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Hook, Line and Sinker

August 12, 2015
If people concentrated on the really important things in life, journalist Doug Larson once said, thered be a shortage of fishing poles.

For all that people do to try and slow down yoga, meditation, even gardening theres little that can beat standing hip-deep in a river, trying to hook a salmon or other dinner-appropriate fish. Mitch-Stuart, Inc., offers plenty of non-profit fundraising auction travel packages to help donors relax, but not all down time needs to come with a massage or facial. Sometimes, supporters want to kick back on a boat or wade into a river and let the reel fly. For those potential fishers, we can offer destination choices from Alaska to the Caribbean.

Fishing along the Alaskan coast does not have to involve a days-long hike through the wilderness to arrive at a watering hole. Instead, let a Royal Caribbean cruise ship drop your donors off nearby. Fishing is a seasonal add-on excursion for the Alaskas Majestic Frontier trip, which takes travelers from Seattle up the Pacific coast, past the Tracy Arm and Fjord and the Hubbard Glacier and back to the lower 48 states. Of course, fellow guests can also choose from walking tours, salmon bakes and even tramway rides, as well.

For those whod rather leave the sea living to the fish, Mitch-Stuart can also plan an entire vacation around a fishing expedition. Freshwater Fishing in Gorgeous Canada takes both experienced and novice anglers to one of the Fairmont resorts in either Alberta or British Columbia, Canada, for a freshwater fly fishing experience. Everything is included the guides help, the boat, the gear, bait and even lunch. And if it gets a bit chilly out on the water, heading back to the five-star resort and soaking in a hot tub is a pretty good way to end the day.

Of course, fishing expeditions dont have to be out in the cold wilderness, either. They can be, for example, beachside in the Caribbean, with our All-Inclusive Fun Under the Sun Island Style package. Supporters can head to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands for a four-hour salt-water fishing trip, aboard a 40-foot ship, trying to reel in mahi mahi, offshore tuna and more. For the aficionados, a full-day experience is available for an additional cost, as well. The best news: If the donor comes back empty-handed, the Lobster Grill at the Bolongo Bay Beach Resort can probably cook up a great bit of fish, too.
Canada Fly Fishing
 
St Thomas Beach
 
Bolongo Bay


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Choose Your Own Adventure

August 05, 2015
One donor loves the bright lights of New York City. Another loves the relative peace of Jackson Hole. One wants to take his son to Wrigley Field in Chicago. Another wants to see basketball played in the mecca of the sport, Madison Square Garden.

Get them all bidding on the same trip.

At Mitch-Stuart, Inc., we pride ourselves in being able to help charities and other organizations select the perfect non-profit auction travel packages to offer at gala events, the type of trip that really brings the wow factor. But sometimes, donors love the freedom to be able to pick their own destinations, to choose from several options. For organizations willing to let their supporters take control of their own vacations, here are three of the ways that we can help.

  • Sports fans are a fickle bunch. While they love their specific team, many of them wont go too far out of their way to watch games featuring other squads. That can make picking a specific destination to attract donors who love a professional squad difficult: Your gala may feature fans of several, even dozens, different franchises in different cities. The good news: Our Go to Any Game in 50 Markets trip avoids having to make that decision. We can secure tickets to any game in any of the four major professional sports, so your Yankees, Red Sox and Dodgers fans can all bid on the same travel package and more competition means more money!
  • Those who wish to be pampered know that theres no geographic bounds to luxury. Thats why donors looking for a high level of sophisticated service know to seek out resorts in the Fairmont Hotel family Fairmont, Raffles and Hotels and Resorts and Swissotel. And thats why your supporters can be guaranteed that pampered feeling with our Legendary Luxury Around the World package, which will send them to one of the aforementioned properties anywhere in the world. With destinations ranging from Seattle to Abu Dhabi, its hard to imagine a potential bidder who wont find a dream vacation location for this trip.
  • Of course, theres even a way to offer an auction item that opens up Mitch-Stuart, Inc.s entire catalog of more than 300 unique travel experiences: Let the donors choose with a gift certificate! Available in denominations of $500, gift certificates allow our organization the opportunity to make any once-in-a-lifetime travel dream come true for your donor, and it takes any of the guesswork out of picking the right auction option for your supporters.
Want more information on how to maximize bidding by letting donors choose their own destinations? Reach out to a Mitch-Stuart travel expert today!
Football
 
Baseball
 
The Fairmont Empress
 
Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise


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Whats New at Mitch-Stuart

July 28, 2015
Each time the seasons change, we get ready for something new: New climate, new holidays, new activities, new dawns and dusks. At Mitch-Stuart, the new season also brings one of our favorite changes: New additions to our catalog of fundraising auction travel packages. We take a look at the best experiences from around the world, the once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that give your gala auctions that wow factor, and then find a way to offer them on a consignment basis to charities and other organizations the world over.

Whats new for the summer of 2015?

First, weve added even more options for those looking for unique, city-specific experiences in some of our favorite destinations in the United States. Experience a hop-on, hop-off trolley tour through American history in Boston (Explore the Oldest City in America), ride in a horse-drawn carriage through Central Park (An Exceptional Excursion Through Central Park) or visit the Alamo in San Antonio (Remember the Alamo). Weve even got a new take on the wine vacation, moving south from Napa Valley to stunning Santa Barbara, with tours of four wineries in four days and three nights, all while setting up home base at an oceanside hotel.

One destination that has been growing in popularity has been Costa Rica, with its bio-diverse jungles and gorgeous beaches. Two new trips can take donors on either a zip line adventure and horseback ride in Guanacaste (Embrace Costa Ricas Pura Vida) or stay in three different cities over the course of eight days, seeing the full spectrum of environments for which the nation is known (Discover Costa Ricas Paradise).

The neon signs and over-the-top lifestyle have long been the stars of Las Vegas, but your donors can now meet some new ones, with a trip to Sin City to meet the stars of the reality television show Pawn Stars. Get a tour of their Vegas, along with a two-night stay at Paris Las Vegas (Sin Citys Full of Paris, Poker and Pawn Stars).

For those looking at that Euro-to-Dollar conversion rate and salivating, weve added three European destinations, each remarkable for their history, their culture and their luxury accommodations. Whether its six nights at the The Fairmont Rey Juan Carlos I in Barcelona (Ensconce Yourself in Spanish Exclusivity), a stay at the historic Hotel Orfila in Madrid (Fall in Love with the Beguiling Charms of Spain) or a four-star experience right in the heart of Rome (Discovering the Inspiring Italian Coast), Mitch-Stuart can send your donors to the most fascinating cities while putting them up in the nicest resorts.

And finally, not even the dog days of summer can stop the golf lovers among your donors. Weve added rounds of play at courses like Pebble Beach Golf Links, Spyglass Hill Golf Couse, Pasatiempo Golf Club and The Links at Spanish Bay to our already-impressive 18-hole inventory. Weve even added a trip that is sure to get the attention of the sports biggest fans: Four days and three nights at The Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina, with three rounds of golf including one on Course No. 2, the host of the 2014 U.S. Open (Americas First True Golf Resort).
Horse Carriage in Central Park
 
Costa Rica Pinilla Canapy Tour
 
Puerta de Alcal
 
Pebble Beach Golf Links


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Thinking ahead: Trips by Season

July 22, 2015
Theres a point, usually sometime in February, when most of the United States is willing to spend any amount of money to get out of a cold, dark winter and spend a week warming up on the beach. Theres also a point, usually around August, when much of the country would give anything to sit in the snow at the top of a mountain.

When planning a fundraising gala, the calendar already plays a big role. But when thinking about which of Mitch-Stuart, Inc.s non-profit fundraising auction travel packages to offer, its also important to consider for when your supporters are planning. If its August, can they squeeze in a beach vacation before school? Or have they already set their sights on winter break? Picking a trip with luxurious accommodations and once-in-a-lifetime experiences is easy. Make sure you think about the season of your gala in order to pick a trip with maximum interest in that moment for the highest bids.


Fall: The leaves are turning, the heat is breaking and school is back in session. Your donors attending a fall gala are more likely to have just returned from a major vacation than at any other time of the year, and turning around and planning another seven-day excursion might seem like a lot. This might be a good time to schedule a winter or spring weekend getaway. Give your supporters a chance to do that with a three-day, two-night high roller experience in Las Vegas, featuring anything from show tickets to rounds of golf. Its just the energy infusion one would want, and even springtime in Sin City avoids the triple-digit temperatures, to boot.

Winter: Last year, Boston got 110 inches of snow. The last of that record-breaking snowfall finally melted on July 14. Needless to say, much of the country will be looking forward to sun and sand by the time the depths of winter hit. But also remember that those same donors may be starting to lock in summer plans at this point. It could be the perfect time, for instance, to auction off one of our eight-day, seven-night sojourns to Bali. Our summer is their winter, technically, but with its location being so close to the equator, the island never really gets cold by our standards.

Spring: In some ways, choosing trips to auction off in the spring can be the most difficult of the season-based decisions. Fall is a busy time of year for many donors, after all, with school resuming and the work schedule ramping up for many professionals. But if theres one national obsession that Americans always make time for, it tends to be football. With Mitch-Stuarts Go to Any Game in 50 Markets! package allows donors to pick the NFL (or, if they prefer, baseball, basketball or hockey) game of their choice for a three-day, two-night sporting experience. And if your donor base is still basking in the glow of post-Super Bowl glory (we see you, Bostonians), the spring might be the time to allow one to book a chance to see the local side repeat, with the Winner Takes All at the 2016 Super Bowl! package.

Summer: Remember when you were a kid, and you complained to your parents that it was too hot? Did they tell you to think of something cold to cool off? Booking a winter vacation to Aspen for skiing would certainly qualify as both cold and cool! The Aspen Winter Wonderland package sets donors up with a home base in the mountain resort town for five days and four nights of skiing, spa pampering and dining. Serve an ice cream dessert at your gala, and your supporters will forget about the shirt-dampening humidity outside.

Our Travel Experts have answers for all seasons. If youd like to offer one of these travel packages or any of the excellent options in our catalog reach out today!
Las Vegas
 
 
Bali
 
 
Football
 
 
Aspen, Little Nell


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Dont Forget the Where

July 15, 2015
There are plenty of decisions to make when planning a non-profit fundraising event: What should the theme be? What should be on the menu? Which Mitch-Stuart fundraising auction travel packages should you offer to the highest bidder (AHEM)? But one of the most important decisions is actually one of the most underrated: Where should all of this go down?

Picking a venue at which to hold a charity gala can be a stressful experience, but going into the decision-making process with a clear set of guidelines can help focus your organizations vision and make the pick an easy one. Here are some questions to ask before placing a deposit on that hotel grand ballroom:

Can my donors get there? If your donor base lives in the suburbs, the most beautiful downtown ballroom might be a bad fit, especially if the event is taking place on a weeknight. If youre throwing an event in New York or San Francisco, however, heading to the suburbs might eliminate supporters who live a car-free lifestyle. Getting to your event should be as easy as possible for the people looking to support your cause.

What facilities are available? Dont let the natural beauty of an open park space, for instance, make you overlook the lack of electricity or indoor plumbing. And that brilliant ballroom in the historic downtown district may not be up to code in terms of wheelchair accessibility not to mention its lack of parking. Attending a charity gala should, in most cases, be much easier to do than attending a summer music festival on a farm or in the desert.

Is it hot? The wow factor extends past auction items and celebrity appearances. Holding a gala at an architectural marvel, or a newly-opened facility, can let donors not only support a cause, but explore a new part of their city. Even smaller events can benefit from novel locations: A citys newest restaurant may be looking for new diners, and your supporters may want to try out the latest in local dining.

Is it on theme? If there are multiple facilities that check each of the boxes above, it might be time to move on to examining the atmosphere one is trying to create. That luau event might not feel right in an art deco masterpiece, and it is hard to hold an upscale casino night in a cavernous warehouse. Practical considerations should likely come first, but theme-based factors make for a great tiebreaker.

Can we stay here long term? Weve talked before about making gala planning earlier by repeating a partys most popular elements. It can be a source of comfort for donors and a sign of stability for an organization to have a yearly event that happens in the same location. If your group is at that point where settling into an annual groove with your gala makes sense, locking down a multi-year contract with a venue can reduce your yearly cost and create a lasting connection in your community.

Have any other tips for gala planners? Talk to us! Tell us on our Facebook page and our Twitter account.


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Spectacular Home Courts

July 08, 2015
London is synonymous with Big Ben. The first image of Paris that the mind conjures is the Eiffel Tower. There are some landmarks so well known that theyve become iconic, indelibly tied to their location. But its not just major monuments and structures that have those kind of geographic connections. It can be food and drink (champagne equals France, bourbon equals Kentucky), or it can be celebrations (New Years Eve is all about Times Square in New York City).


London is synonymous with Big Ben. The first image of Paris that the mind conjures is the Eiffel Tower. There are some landmarks so well known that theyve become iconic, indelibly tied to their location. But its not just major monuments and structures that have those kind of geographic connections. It can be food and drink (champagne equals France, bourbon equals Kentucky), or it can be celebrations (New Years Eve is all about Times Square in New York City).

Some of our favorite non-profit fundraising auction travel packages take donors to visit these destinations, so closely linked to their geographic homes. But weve also got ways to connect your supporters to the worlds great sporting events, contests that not only bring the best athletes to the field (or court, or course, or) but also become intertwined with the local fabric in a special way.

Next week, the eyes of the international sports world moves from England to its neighbor, Scotland, for one of golfs signature events. The British Open takes place at St. Andrews Links, sometimes referred to as the birthplace of the sport. While the Open Championship (as its formally called) is rotated between several courses in Scotland and England, its the Old Course at St. Andrews that is the most common host. While Mitch-Stuart doesnt have specific spectator packages for the Open, we can go one step further: Our Home of Golf travel package allows donors to play the Torrance and Kittocks Courses at the Fairmont St. Andrews, two of the most spectacular courses in the country!

There are several yearly events in France that people associate with the country (the clay courts of Roland Garros have made the French Open an iconic tournament of tennis Grand Slam), but only one covers a tremendous amount of the nations land and ends with an iconic trip down the Champs-Elysees. The Tour de France is a summer sports favorite, an event that attracts eyes from around the world and introduces everyday fans to some of the planets top athletes, who otherwise train in obscurity. The best part: Watching the Tour riders pass by is free for general spectators (though VIP tickets are available for those who dont want to line up and wait roadside), meaning that almost every trip Mitch-Stuart, Inc., offers to France can be a Tour de France trip with a little bit of planning and the willingness to arrive at the race course early.

Of course, in America were best known for one particular sporting event as well, even if it changes venues each year. The Super Bowl is a single-game experience like none other; for one afternoon, seemingly the entire nation stops to gather in living rooms, gorge on snacks and watch a lot of commercials (with some football sprinkled in). Its a true bucket list ticket for sports fans and one to which we have access! Our Winner Takes All at the 2016 Super Bowl! package can send donors to the 2016 Super Bowl at the new Levi Stadium in Santa Clarita, CA, with two tickets for the game and a three-night hotel stay, along with transportation to and from both the airport and the Bowl itself.
Fairmont St. Andrews
Tour De France
Tour De France
Super Bowl


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Independence Day Around the World

July 01, 2015
This weekend, Americans of all backgrounds will get together, listen to patriotic music, barbecue any foodstuff within sight, and watch fireworks explode in the night sky, all to celebrate Independence Day. Its a day, an event, for which people from around the world come to the United States to see.


But the United States is obviously not the only country that celebrates its independence, and the holiday activities in many other countries are not just fun, but perfect opportunities for visitors to get to know these destinations. If youve got donors who want to go on a Mitch-Stuart non-profit auction travel package trip, one of these celebrations could be the perfect excuse.

Started in the late 18th century to celebrate the start of the French Revolution, Bastille Day brings the people of France together each year for parades and fireworks. The largest military parade in all of Europe occurs on July 14 each year, along the Champs-Elysees in Paris, and fireworks often frame the Eiffel Tower. Any of our ten trips to France can take donors to a Bastille Day celebration, but the Enjoy Paris Joie de Vivre package is the one that can put supporters closest to the Tower or the Arc de Triomphe, with hotel options like the MonHotel and Le Marquis Eiffel.

In Italy, Republic Day is the yearly celebration of the vote in which the Italian people chose to transition to a republic rather than a monarchy after World War II. A major parade, watched over by the countrys president, goes by the Roman Forum and military bands play at the presidents residence. In addition, the Italian version of the Blue Angels fly in crazy patterns over Rome, leaving trails of red, green and blue (the colors of the Italian flag) smoke. Send a donor to Italy with our Fall in Love with Italy or Roman History, Cuisine and Enotecas packages, among others, and they can schedule their trip around the holiday.

If the quasi-militaristic nature of the European celebrations is off-putting to your donors, it might be time to consider a trip to the Caribbean (in fairness, though, isnt it always time to consider a trip to the Caribbean?). One of our favorites is Independence Day in Barbados, not just for the beautiful blue-and-yellow lights that illuminate everything from government buildings to roundabouts, but also because it is celebrated yearly on November 30th, the perfect destination for those looking to avoid those late fall cold snaps. With our Timeless Caribbean Elegance package, donors can stay in the luxurious The Fairmont Royal Pavilion, check out the parade and the lights, and still find time to get to the beach.
eiffel tower paris
Italy
Fairmont Royal Pavilion
Fairmont Royal Pavilion


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Popular Destinations for Popular Auctions

June 23, 2015
With over twenty years in the non-profit auction travel business, and more than $1 billion raised for charities around the world, weve accumulated a good amount of knowledge about what donors and supporters like. Donors heading to Hawaii want to go to the beach. Donors heading to Colorado want to either go hiking (the summer) or skiing (the rest of the year).


But some of our destinations are so multi-faceted that they appeal to a wide range of bidders and so popular that demand has dictated giving them multiple itineraries. Thats why our catalog with more than 300 travel packages available offers multiple options for many of our favorite destinations. These popular locations attract all sorts of different bidders, making them great additions to any auction.

Theres an experience for everyone in New York City, which is why Mitch-Stuart offers 17 different trips to the Big Apple. Sports fans will enjoy the chance to take in the U.S. Open, one of tennis great tournaments, while foodies will love the Nosh Your Way Through Three New York Delis that includes gift cards to Katzs, 2nd Ave. and Carnegie Delis. Theres Shop Til You Drop and Worldwide Passion for Fashion for the fashionista bidder, and even a package with tours of the citys historical landmarks, New Yorks History in the Making. A fan of New York could attend your auctions for years and never see it all!

As a region, Southern California may be as diverse a block of land as can be found in America, from the San Diego Zoo to the glitz and glamor of Hollywood. Fittingly, Mitch-Stuart offers a diverse list of travel experiences in the Southland. Whether its golf in Carlsbad or Indian Wells, luxury on the beach in Laguna Niguel, or attending an award show like the Peoples Choice Awards or ESPYs in Los Angeles, there are plenty of ways to play in the California sun.

American destinations are not the only ones with a wide range of available adventures, either. Mitch-Stuart has nine separate trips to Paris, to celebrate the citys art, food and joie de vivre. Send your donors to some of Paris greatest museums with the Paris as an Art History Destination Magnifique! package, or make a couples anniversary dream come true with The City of Lights is Yours to Love itinerary, which includes an evening private illuminations tour. Mitch-Stuart even offers two tour that split time between Paris and Rome, for the indecisive donor, based around either landmarks or food.

Need help picking a package for one of our most popular destinations? Talk your decision through with a Mitch-Stuart travel expert today!
Fashion Week in New York
Walk of Fame Hollywood
Paris
Rome


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Around the (Art) World: Our Favorite Museums

June 17, 2015
Even in an age where most important works of art can be seen with a quick Internet search, theres something special about seeing paintings and sculptures in person. Standing in the same room as a canvas that once stood in front of Picasso, or standing under a ceiling on which Michelangelo created one of the worlds enduring wonders, is an almost-spiritual experience for fans of either art or history.


Mitch-Stuart, Inc., can create non-profit fundraising auction travel packages to beautiful beaches around the world, send donors to the great restaurants and events of our time, but there may be no more culturally important trips than those that take people to see our shared artistic history. Here are some of our favorite itineraries that feature stops at the worlds great museums:

Even Americans with an aversion to the French language know how to pronounce Louvre or, more importantly, know what the museum means to the art world. Our Paris as an Art History Destination Magnifique! package gets donors inside the 650,000-plus square foot museum to see everything from the Mona Lisa to tremendous collections of Greek, Roman and Islamic art. But to see just the Louvre on a trip to Paris is akin to seeing just the White House in Washington, D.C.: Theres so much more to explore! Thats why the Mitch-Stuart, Inc., charity auction travel package also includes tours of the Musee dOrsay and the Centre George Pompidou; the former is a repository of impressionist art from masters like Monet and Renoir, while the latter has one of the largest modern art collections in Europe.

For fans of the Renaissance, it shouldnt be a surprise that Italy is where to go. But where in Italy (or, the place surrounded by Italy, to be precise) may be unexpected: The museums of the Vatican are, combined, one of the most often-visited collections of art in the world. Works by Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael are highlights, but what rightfully comes to mind for many is the Sistine Chapel, the ceiling of which was one of the greatest works of Michelangelo. With so much to see in one place, taking a tour (like the one that comes with our Discover Romes Eternal Charm package) is a must.

Your donors dont have to cross an ocean to visit a great museum, of course. There are plenty of fantastic choices in American cities, from the Museum of Modern Art in New York to the brand-new The Broad in downtown Los Angeles, coming in September of 2015. But not even the biggest cities have a monopoly on great collections: Our Santa Fe is the Perfect Getaway trip includes admission to the Georgia OKeeffe Museum (the world-famous painter passed away in the New Mexico city in 1986) for two. Exhibits draw from the 1,200-plus collection of pieces to showcase different aspects of OKeeffes life and work, along with the work of fellow American modernists.
Louvre
Orsay Museum, Paris, France
Sistine Chapel
Vatican Museums


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Destinations Near Destinations

June 09, 2015
The trips that make up Mitch-Stuart, Inc.s catalog of non-profit fundraising auction travel packages can take donors to some of the most glamorous, the most remote and the most beautiful destinations on the planet. Supporters can never run out of amazing vistas, exciting activities and first-class luxury options everywhere from Bali to Paris.


For some, though, one destination simply isnt enough. Rather than sending one of these bidders to a remote location, why not pick one where, within a half-day or less drive, (s)he can be in a new place, with different activities and a wholly unique vibe? If your donors want to hit the road even after hitting the road, consider sending them to one of these great destinations.

Amazingly, a city known best for its neon lights and man-made volcanos and lakes is the perfect home base for an outdoors adventure in the Great American West. Las Vegas might be filled to the brim with entertainment and diversions, but it also is only a short drive from some of the most beautiful natural vistas available. Of course, the Hoover Dam is a short drive (or helicopter ride) to the south of the city, but also within a reasonable distance lies both the Grand Canyon and Zion National Park.

History buffs love heading to Washington, D.C., with its museums and monuments. But the city also makes a great departure point for several different adventures. Travelers looking for even more history can make the short drive to the Revolutionary War battle sites in Virginia and Pennsylvania, hitting cities like Williamsburg, Va. And while D.C. doesnt have any beaches of its own, coastal towns like Rehoboth Beach, Del. and Virginia Beach, Va. are popular summer getaways for both residents of the nations capital and for tourists who want to get some sun in between Smithsonian visits.

Travelers who want to drive to multiple tourist destinations on one trip, however, may love Florida most of all. Anyone whos ever visited the Sunshine State can testify that Orlando, Miami and Key West each have different vibes, from the family-friendly fun of Disney World to the nightlife of South Beach. What fewer people consider, though, is that all of those different vacation profiles happen within short distances: According to Google Maps, it is only 238 miles from Epcot Center to Crobar, one of the hottest nightclubs in Miami. And Miami is within shouting distance of natural beauty as well, as tours of the Florida Everglades are just down the road.
Grand Canyon
Gettysburg Battlefield
Epcot Center
Florida Everglades


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Farm-to-Table Galas

June 03, 2015
To raise the most money during a gala auction, it helps to sell items that play on the events theme. Its one reason why our trips to locations like Las Vegas are popular with organizations who throw casino night parties, or that sophisticated travel packages to places like Paris and London go well with black-tie affairs.

But an often-neglected way of pairing auction with event can be literally served up on a plate: Creating a menu for the evening that goes well with a Mitch-Stuart, Inc. non-profit auction travel package can be a fun way to highlight a nights aesthetic while also making supporters hunger for a trip out of town. Some of our most popular trips include lots of exposure to local cuisine, and that means plenty of unique dishes to spice up your get-together.

One of the many traits New York City is famous for, of course, is its food. If you doubt that, ask any native New Yorker you know about where in the city to get the best slice of pizza or best bagel but only do so if youve got a couple of hours to kill listening to the response. If a non-profit is offering one of our Big Apple trips like perhaps the Savor New York Deliciously! package, which includes a food tour through either the Lower East Side or NoLita? a fun way of drawing attention may be to set up a faux-hot dog stand on the premises. While donors wander around and mingle, they can grab a dog as well. This works especially well at fancier parties, believe it or not, as theres no better conversation starter than the shared danger of trying to eat a hot dog with ketchup and mustard while wearing formal clothing.

Want to go quirkier? Fans of the southwest will enjoy our Sophisticated Southwest Style trip, which takes donors on a four-day, three-night trip to Santa Fe, NM, to explore the culture of one of the regions most artistically-forward cities. But Santa Fe is also a capital of southwestern cuisine, and to get the attention of your supporters, there is but one dish to serve: The Frito pie. The casserole-esque dish is said by some to have gotten its start in Santa Fe at a Woolworths lunch counter and even spawned a mini-controversy when chef and critic Anthony Bourdain insulted it during his CNN show. It works as a side dish or, maybe even better, as a passed hors-d'oeuvre; simply cut open a small bag of Fritos lengthwise and top with chili, cheese and anything else that would go on, say, a taco.

Tacos arent a part of the menu at most places in New Orleans, but if your organization would like to offer trips to the Crescent City there are plenty of culinary delights to pair with the travel package. Adventures like our Discover New Orleans Celebrated Downtown and The Home of Jazz both offer donors a chance to take a cooking class as the famed New Orleans School of Cooking, and it is almost a guarantee theyll learn to whip up a beignet while in the city. The pastry makes for a perfect breakfast when in New Orleans, but load it up with powdered sugar and it can make an excellent dessert course. Dont forget to add a strong cup of coffee and some live Dixieland jazz.

We dont have a test kitchen, but we do have more suggestions reach out to a Mitch-Stuart, Inc. travel expert to talk about offering one of these trips!


Carnegie Deli in New York
Santa Fe La Casa Sena
New Orleans School of Cooking
Louis Armstrong statue in New Orleans


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Go Big in the Summer

May 27, 2015
Whether its our muscle memory from scholastic days, the longer periods of light or the beautiful weather, summer is embedded in our minds as the season to travel. It feels almost like a biological response: The calendar hits June, and people are ready to hit the road, head to the airport or even get on a train and get away.

At Mitch-Stuart, Inc., we put together travel packages for all times of year, going to beaches in the summer and ski slopes in the winter. Some are short weekend-style getaways, while others are tied to a specific event. But during June, July and August, when travelers seem the most willing to free up extended periods of time, we find that they want to really escape, taking longer trips in terms of both time and distance away.

Want to send your donors on a summertime getaway that takes advantage of the seasons longer vacation windows? Here are a few ideas.

If your donors have the time to take a week-long vacation, many of our trips to Europe will allow them to explore the continent at their own pace. This can come by settling in to one city on a trip to a single destination, or through one of our multi-stop adventures. Voyages like Hit the Road, Jacque! or Indulge in the City of Light and the Eternal City use the longer time frame to take your donors to multiple landmarks across the European Union (like Paris and Rome, in those two examples), while still experiencing local culture along the way.

If a slower pace is more in demand for your supporters, think of a trip to Bali. It may take almost a full day to get there from the west coast of the United States, but the islands gorgeous vistas and hospitality have made it a very popular vacation destination anyway. Four of Mitch-Stuarts five trips to the Indonesian paradise are for a full seven nights (with one shorter getaway being for a six-night stay), meaning plenty of time to get there, settle in, cope with the 15-hour time difference from the Pacific time zone, then start enjoying scuba lessons, beach time and pampering luxury.

There may be no more interesting combination of luxury and wilderness, though, than the Fairmont Mara Safari Club in Kenya. Surrounded by the Mara River and on the edge of the Masai Mara National Reserve, the Club is remote; it can take more than a day to even get here from the United States, with connections in mainland Europe being almost standard. But the time it takes to get here will be worth it once your donors head on a game drive, bush walk or any other of a number of once-in-a-lifetime experiences. And with the weeklong stay being a part of our Explore Kenya's Breathtaking Landscape & Wildlife package, therell be plenty of time to shake the jet lag, too.


Paris
Bali
Bali
Mara Safari Club Kenya


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Summertime is Disney Time

May 19, 2015
There are some brand names that are so synonymous with an activity or product that the proper, trademarked noun replaces the common descriptor. We Xerox pages, rather than photocopy them. We use a Kleenex, rather than a tissue. We dont search for something online we Google it.

The word Disney is not quite to that level of usage saturation, but Mickey Mouse and company are nearly synonymous with quality family entertainment. A trip to either Disney World in Orlando or Disneyland in Southern California can be more than a vacation for a youngster it becomes a goal, something to look forward to for months in advance (and something, accordingly, that parents can use as a great motivator to get young ones to do chores and behave).

At Mitch-Stuart, Inc., we offer non-profit auction travel packages to destinations around the world, with trips to far-flung corners of the world and once-in-a-lifetime events. But ask any pre-teen, and the stars of our catalog are the journeys to hang out with Goofy, Mickey, Minnie and company in sunny Florida or California.

Why Disney for your donors?
  1. Kids obviously love the attractions of the Disney parks, but parents should love them as well, as so much of the experience is designed for and based around the needs of families. Theres never a desperate rush to find a changing table in a Disney park, and no concerns about children being exposed to inappropriate material. Taking the family to a destination aimed at families means less time adapting a setting to a family-friendly zone and more time enjoying a vacation.
  2. The Disney parks arent just teacup rides and princesses. Theres plenty for adults to do, as well. A restaurant like Victoria and Alberts, with its chefs table and massive wine list, is definitely a grownup affair, while the surrounding Orlando area has become a hot-spot for wine, as we mentioned on our Twitter feed.  And Disneyland has a House of Blues concert venue and a ESPN Zone sports bar in its Downtown Disney area, both of which cater to adults (even if the latter features sports arcade games, as well).
  3. Going to Disney World or Disneyland doesnt just involve going to either of those parks. If your donor takes advantage of our Happiest Place on Earth and More! trip, (s)he will also spend a day at nearby Knotts Berry Farm, while our three trips to Orlando and Disney World include options like excursions to SeaWorld or Universal Studios.
Want to send donors to Disneyland? Reach out to one of Mitch-Stuart, Inc.s travel experts for more information!

Disney
Disney
Disney
Disney


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Vacations Under One Roof

May 13, 2015
Anyone whos ever traveled with a close friend or family member and spent the trip arguing about when to wake up, when to hit the city and when to relax knows that there are as many types of travelers as there are destinations. For some, sleeping is for plane rides only: There are sights to see, activities in which to partake, and nightlife to enjoy. For others, though, the chance to go elsewhere is also the chance to relax, to kick off shoes and grab a drink by a pool, or enjoy a five-star meal and only have to waddle back to a hotel room.

For the latter, Mitch-Stuart, Inc., can help. While we love sending your non-profit fundraising auction winners to major events like the Kentucky Derby or the Tonys, and we love sending donors to far-flung destinations like Bali for once-in-a-lifetime adventures, we also get that sometimes, vacation is just a chance to sit in one place for an extended period of time, maybe get a nice spa treatment, eat (and drink) well and sit by a pool.

For those travelers who get to a destination and dont want to leave the hotel, weve got a great selection of charity auction travel packages:

Want a view of three different countries, all from one rooftop? The Fairmont Monte Carlo (home base for our A Royal Retreat and Bask in the Glory of the French Riviera trips) affords sights of France, Italy and Monaco, all without leaving the hotel. And once sightseeing is done for the day, it also has its own Nobu restaurant on premises, and the Willow Stream Spa offers treatments for pairs (with two couples experience suites) and singles alike.

Some hotels double as historical sites, meaning that staying there is like seeing a citys past. The Savoy Hotel of London (Stay at the Most Iconic London Hotel) has more than 125 years of history, including being the home of performances by everyone from Frank Sinatra to Bette Midler. Its also one of the original centers of cocktail culture; The Savoy Cocktail Book has been republished and updated multiple times since its 1930 debut. Today, the Savoy also is home to Savoy Grill, Gordon Ramsays ode to glamorous and opulent fine dining. On this side of the pond, the Plaza in New York (Exquisite New York Dazzles Like Never Before and Perfect Moments at the Plaza) covers food and drinks as well, with its stunning Champagne Bar overlooking the historic Grand Army Plaza and Pulitzer Fountain.

Of course, for travelers who like heading outdoors as long as they dont have to travel too far to get there, Bolongo Bay Beach Resort (All Inclusive Fun Under the Sun Island Style! and Escape to the U.S. Virgin Islands Sun, Sand and Sea) has its own cove on St. Thomas, with access to some of the most beautiful sand available to the Caribbean traveler right there on property. And for when your donors get thirsty, Bolongo Bay also has Iggies, which has been voted Caribbeans Best Beach Bar by a local publication multiple times. Dinner, drinks, sun and sand who needs to explore?


Fairmont Monte Carlo
Savoy London
Bolongo Bay Beach Resort
Iggies at Bolongo Bay


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Spring Into a New Trip!

April 07, 2015
At Mitch-Stuart, Inc., were proud of the catalog of non-profit auction travel packages that weve put together over the years. Whether its a deli tour of New York, a trip to the Masters or even a stay at a castle, weve got something for every donors desire.

Still, every few months we get the chance to try and one-up ourselves, to create great new options for charity organizations to add to fundraising auctions and give supporters those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. Whats new for the spring at Mitch-Stuart?

  • Three new trips take advantage of the dollars current strength against the Euro by taking donors across the pond: Look for great food and flamenco dancing in Barcelona, wine and treats in Tuscany, and luxury in London.
  • Lots of normal trips involve tour boats. Very few, like our travel package to San Francisco, involve a hands-on sailing experience aboard an Americas Cup yacht. For those who have fantasized about taking to the open seas or just want a good excuse to wear a captains hat this is the chance.
  • If you think your donor base could use chances to de-stress, weve got both domestic and international opportunities to do so. Send supporters on a wine tour through Napa Valley by horse and carriage (much less stressful than driving!) and keep them in the States, or fly them overseas to Bali, an in-demand destination, and let them find bliss on the sand of Sanur Beach or in a truly indulgent villa (set up for ten guests!) with a private chef and barman.
  • New ways to see two of our favorite U.S. destinations: Send friends of your organization to Miami Beach and put them up at the Art Deco boutique Courtyard Cadillac Miami Beach/Oceanfront Hotel, or put them in the middle of it all at the Grand Hyatt in Times Square, with passes to see everything via the popular Gray Line bus tour.
  • And two more opportunities to run screaming from this winters chill, with adventure in Nassau and an all-inclusive stay in Jamaica. Whether its drinks in Montego Bay or a spa day at Baha Mar, shoveling snow will be the furthest worry from your donors mind while warming up in the Caribbean.
These trips, along with scores more, can be found in the spring version of the Mitch-Stuart, Inc. catalog. Reach out to one of our Travel Experts for more information and to find out how to add that wow factor to your fundraising auction!

Tuscany
Americas Cup yacht in San Francisco
Bali
Miami Beach


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Get Warm, Get Active!

March 18, 2015
Were big fans of the outdoors at Mitch-Stuart, Inc., and you can see that in our non-profit auction fundraising travel packages. We send donors to Jackson Hole, to Aspen and even to Quebec for winter adventures.

But when the sun comes out, some people default to lounge chairs, tall drinks and beachside reading. Dont get us wrong, we love heading to the shore for a day of relaxation, and we certainly love our beachside resorts and bars. There are some activities, though, in which it makes a lot more sense to engage during the warmer months. If your donors are looking for a warm-weather retreat, maybe its time to look into one of these activity-based consignment travel packages.

Theres a reason that NASCAR takes the winter off: Driving at triple-digit speeds through snow is not an appealing thought. But its not just the professionals that get back in the drivers seat after a few months off for holidays and cold temperatures. Winners of our Its Just You and the Speedway package can get in a real life racecar and take it for a spin with the Mario Andretti Racing Experience. In a three-hour experience, the driver gets a meeting with a crew chief, two-way radio communication with a spotter for tips while out on the track, and personal racing instruction from the experienced Andretti crew. Available in four different states (Arizona, Illinois, New Hampshire or North Carolina), the Experience is also convenient for the donor who may not know where (s)he wants to go, or would rather stay closer to home.

For those who really want to get away, though, theres the Great White North. While there may be a form of romance to roughing it while ice fishing in the wilds of Canada, the slightly-warmer climes of the spring make wading out into a river a lot more comfortable. Making the process even nicer: Unwinding at a Fairmont resort afterward. With our Freshwater Fishing in Gorgeous Canada package, your donors could find themselves at one of four different Canadian resorts, spending time with a guide during a private freshwater fly fishing experience (and yes, the bait and gear are included) and trying to catch that nights dinner. Dont worry about a donor going hungry, though: Each of the Fairmonts have fantastic dining options, too, if your charitys supporter wasnt able to reel in the nights entre.

With the skies clearing a little, now might also be the time to get in the cockpit. Yes, Mitch-Stuart, Inc. can send your donors into the sky with a Top Gun package, available to any one of twenty-five different cities. Your donors will fly on a fighter pilot mission experience, practicing formation flying and basic maneuvers before engaging in a few dogfights. Multiple cameras in the cockpit will capture the experience for posterity and give friends a chance to be jealous (or maybe a good laugh!) back on land.

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Holiday Globe-Hoppin

March 11, 2015
For many, the first thought of Independence Day involves fireworks over the National Monument in Washington, D.C. When Thanksgiving comes up, invariably so does the tradition of watching the Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade, live from New York City. New Years Eve? Its hard to separate the day from the ball dropping in Times Square, isnt it?

One can celebrate a holiday anywhere, of course, but there are some places that have become ingrained in the culture as the home base for a certain day of the year. Mitch-Stuart, Inc. can send your donors to some of the worlds most interesting destinations with our non-profit auction travel packages, but one trait that some dont realize is that there are few to no blackout dates on these trips. So, if youve got a donor itching to go to the Big Apple for Thanksgiving, we can make that happen.

Here are a few other places that we can send your donors who want to celebrate specific holidays:

When thoughts turn to St. Patricks Day, many immediately think of two east coast cities where many of the Irish who came to America settled: Boston and New York. But only one major metropolis go so far as to dye a natural resource green. Yes, Chicago may be better known for pierogies and deep dish pizza than shamrocks, but Irish-Americans are the citys largest ethnic group. The citys St. Patricks Day Parade is one of the countrys grandest, and the dying of the Chicago River has to be seen to be believed: Thousands line up and watch a boat dispense the green-colored dye into the river each year.

Unlike St. Patricks Day, Labor Day doesnt lend itself to massive celebrations on its own. The commemorating of the labor movement in America is important, sure, but its often conflated with its place on the calendar and the changing season; Labor Day is much more about the end of summer than overtime laws. For that reason, thousands flock to Las Vegas every year to get that last bit of consequence-free Vitamin D before hunkering down for a long winter. From massive pool parties to decadent (and celebrity chef-filled) restaurant scene, there are plenty of ways to celebrate the excess of summers freedom in Sin City.

Other holidays have become synonymous with the cities that recognize them the loudest. Patriots Day is the third Monday in April, and was set aside to celebrate the Battles of Lexington and Concord. Technically, its recognized in Maine and Wisconsin, but it tends to be known around the country as a holiday specifically for Boston, where its a day off from school and work, along with a chance to relax (hopefully) in the spring sun. For Beantown, its a big sports day, too: The Boston Marathon is run in the morning, and the Boston Red Sox have had a home game at Fenway Park on nearly every Patriots Day since 1959.
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Top of the Lux

February 24, 2015
There are lots of little touches that make a vacation a relaxing experience. Someone else makes the bed in the hotel. At most places, its impossible to cook, which means theres no dishes to do. But one of the best for many is the ability to forget about bills and finances for a few days. Whether its that extra drink at happy hour or the bottle of wonderful wine, its easier to indulge miles away from home.

At Mitch-Stuart, Inc., we love sending your donors on all sorts of adventures with our non-profit auction travel packages. Some of our favorite ones are those loaded with the sort of indulgences, those luxurious extras on trips to destinations both common and once-in-a-lifetime, which make long-lasting memories and add the elusive wow factor to an auction lot list. Whether its four-figure gift certificates to glamorous jewelers or the poshest accommodations, some of Mitch-Stuart, Inc.s biggest selling itineraries are all about living the high life.

The Plaza in New York City has defined luxury in the Big Apple for more than a century. A favorite of Hollywood filmmakers looking to capture Manhattan extravagance in a single shot (films from Barefoot in the Park to American Hustle have featured the hotel), The Plaza is a favorite for everything from afternoon tea to late-night drinks in the Champagne Bar. It also features 24-hour butler service and some of the citys best concierges. Our Exquisite New York Dazzles Like Never Before package, however, doesnt stop at Central Park South, though; we also include a $1,000 gift certificate to Tiffany and Co., the centuries-old jeweler and tastemaker. Donors who win this package can both relax and shop in style, picking up memories for a lifetime and maybe even an heirloom set to last even longer.

What The Plaza represents to Americans, The Savoy is to the British. Its guest rooms feature panoramic views of the River Thames and underwent a 220 million pound renovation that was completed in 2010. The Stay at the Most Iconic London Hotel The Savoy package highlights the propertys extensive list of charms the close location to all London has to offer, the afternoon tea overlooking the Thames, the white-glove services and top-notch butler and concierge staffs. It also includes a $500 gift card to visit the hotels restaurant, Gordon Ramseys Savoy Grill, which features all of the genius of the titular chefs creations with none of the berating that comes from his television appearances.

Of course, there are few more luxurious places on the planet than the French Riviera. The southern French coast has been a resort escape for Europeans since the 1700s, and now attracts celebrities from around the world (musicians like Elton John and Bono have flocked there, along with movie stars like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie). But travelers dont have to buy a second (or thirdor fourth) home along the coast to enjoy the regions spoils; our Bask in the Glory of the French Riviera package includes a suite at the Fairmont Monte Carlo and a $1,000 gift card for sightseeing tours but make sure to get in some relaxation at the Fairmonts Willow Stream Spa and grab a meal at Nobu Fairmont Monte Carlo, the Riviera outpost of famed chef Nobu Matsuhisas global cuisine empire.



The Plaza
Tiffany
The Savoy
The Masters Golf


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Travel for Two

February 11, 2015
Travel is inherently romantic. It pushed people out of their comfort zones and into new experiences, often requiring assistance from others (directions on the subway, translation of a menu in another language). It makes people vulnerable, a state which can help forge stronger, closer connections. Its also been a trope in books and films for as long as theres been fiction; movies like Lost in Translation and Before Sunrise are based around the idea of finding love in the midst of a trip.

Hawaii Wedding
Fairmont Mayakoba
Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa
The Plaza Hotel
But the act of going somewhere is not, all on its own, romantic. Mitch-Stuart, Inc. sends donors around the world with its charity auction travel packages, and a big part of the appeal is the destination itself. But it is often the experiences during these once-in-a-lifetime trips that make the most lasting memories. If you want to set up your donors with an adventure for sweethearts, look to these travel packages for inspiration.

There are plenty of romantic adventures available in Hawaii, of course, but the grandest gesture may be taking your relationship back to the day you said I do. Our Hawaii is a Lovers Paradise package sends a pair of donors to Oahu for either the wedding of a lifetime or a renewal of vows ceremony, beachside at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort. Choose from one of three different island beaches, and well do the rest provide an ecumenical minister, take care of any and all fees, and even give the ceremony that extra island flair with a pair of leis. Theres even a gift certificate to be used on champagne and fruit back at the hotel.

The vineyards and restaurants of Sonoma have their own romantic pull, as well. Mitch-Stuart, Inc. offers seven different trips through that part of Northern Californias wine country, and all of them have one amenity in common: A stay at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa. Its the spa part that should be of special interest to lovebirds; the Willow Stream Spa is ranked in the top 25 of Travel + Leisures spa list, and includes mineral baths and a huge list of treatments. There are four different couples experiences on offer, including massages and other body treatments.

Even trips to a city known for romance, like New York, requires some advance planning. Thankfully, staying at The Plaza can make those plans easier. Between its room package ideas like the Bubbles and Baubles getaway (which includes jewelry, champagne and chocolates) to its Valentines weekend restaurant menus with names like Champagne and Canapes, The Plaza has made itself a major destination for once-in-a-lifetime romance. And with some of the top concierges in New York in its employ, The Plaza can help round out a sweetheart getaway with tough-to-procure tickets or reservations nearly anywhere in the city.

Want to send your donors on a romantic getaway? Want to add touches of Cupid to another package? Get in touch with a Mitch-Stuart, Inc. travel expert today!


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Silver Screen Travel

January 28, 2015
This is the time of year when even those only minimally interested in movies have one eye on the silver screen. The major award shows seem to come every weekend, and the multiplexes feature many of the previous years best releases. Of course, when minds turn to cinema, they often also turn to Los Angeles or New York, the great centers of American film. But making movies is no longer just the province of the two largest cities in the country and that means that your donors can make a cinema-themed adventure out of a trip to several different locations.

The Mitch-Stuart, Inc. catalog of non-profit auction travel packages includes trips all around the world, for all sorts of occasions. Some of our favorite destinations can make a film lovers dream come true, all while experiencing a luxurious vacation and benefiting your charity.

National Mall
National Mall
Wrigley Field
Biltmore in Asheville
A major reason for a film to shoot outside of Los Angeles or New York is when its setting is so iconic that it cant be faked. Since even a major movie studio likely doesnt have the space to reproduce the National Mall, Washington D.C. sees more than its fair share of productions. While the actual halls of power the Oval Office, the Supreme Court chamber, the House of Representatives and the Senate are reproduced on sound stages far away, other city-specific locations like the Kennedy Center (seen in State of Play and All the Presidents Men), the Lincoln Memorial (Wedding Crashers, Election and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, among others) and the National Mall (Three Days of the Condor, Dave and National Treasure) have all made for important backdrops. The city has loaned more than just federal monuments to the silver screen, too: Local culinary favorite Bens Chili Bowl shows up in The Pelican Brief and State of Play, along with many television shows.

Chicago may be best known for its lively theater scene (especially improvisational comedy factories like Second City and iO), but its also been the setting for some of cinemas most beloved stories. In particular, director/writer John Hughes set most of his films in and around the Windy City, and many of the locations seen on the screen can be seen in person, as well. Ferris Bueller and his co-conspirators take in the Art Institute of Chicago and Wrigley Field during his day off, Northbrook Mall showed up in Weird Science, though many of the stores have changed, and churches like Glencoe Union and Trinity United Methodist hosted scenes from Sixteen Candles and Home Alone, respectively. Private tours from companies like Viator take tourists around the city on a regular basis, either for general film tours or for movie-specific experiences (The Blues Brothers is a popular one).

Not every city with a thriving film industry is a major metropolis, though. For a mix of movie magic and a small-town feel, head to Asheville, North Carolina. Films like Forrest Gump, The Hunger Games and Dirty Dancing made use of the city for locations. One setting in particular has become a favorite for Hollywood scouts: The Biltmore Estate has shown up in the aforementioned Gump, the film version of Hannibal and more than a dozen other recognizable titles. The best news: Visitors can see the estate, tour its vineyards, have a meal at its Dining Room (featuring estate-raised beef and lamb) or even get married on the grounds.


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The Newest of the New

January 20, 2015
Part of making sure that were offering your organization the best charity auction travel packages is updating our roster of once-in-a-lifetime trips. Each quarter, we put together new ideas, new adventures and new luxury experiences for non-profits to use as fundraising items at gala auction events. Whats new in the Mitch-Stuart catalog? Let look at some of the latest and greatest options.

Fittingly, our winter update features several new options for your donors who love the rush of skiing. Send them to Colorado with our Aspens Winter Wonderland package: A four-night/five-day stay at Little Nell Resort and Spa with gift certificates for the spa and dining. Little Nell sits at the base of Aspen Mountain resort, one of the top ski destinations in the country.  Just down the road in Crested Butte, our Crested Butte Promises a Superb Alpine Adventure package puts the donor at the base of the towns ski resort, and gives them access to a VIP members lounge and even a bonus adventure, like snowmobiling, hiking tours or even horseback riding.

If your donors like runways more than ski runs, the starring edition to our catalog comes from the Big Apple. Get Caught Up in Couture sends your donor to New York City for a three-day, two-night jaunt during one of the citys two 2015 New York Fashion Weeks. Along with the de facto exhibitions happening on the sidewalks of Manhattan each day, donors/winning bidders will also get two premier tickets to a Lincoln Center fashion show, where exhibitors like Prada and Marc Jacobs show off their collections for the next season. Your donors can be on the cutting edge of the fashion industry, all while supporting your cause.

Of course, some of our favorite trips every year involve wine, and weve added some great vino-related adventures, both domestic and abroad. Our Raise a Toast to the Pacific Northwest Coast package focuses on the vineyards of the region, with tours of Chateau St. Michelle and a second boutique winery to be named. For those looking for an international, big-ticket experience, theres the Indulge in the Italian Culture and Countryside and Wine, Dine and View Art So Fine packages, both of which involve Florence, Italy-based adventures and tastings in some of the countrys great wine cellars. Each package offers additional fun as well a tiramisu tasting, a visit to the Uffizi Gallery of Florence, or the sights of the Snoqualmie Falls and a tour of Boehms Swiss Chocolate Factory.

Want to hear about the latest and greatest once-in-a-lifetime adventures available from Mitch-Stuart, Inc.? Call or email a representative today!

Little Nell Resort and Spa
Little Nell Resort and Spa
New York Fashion Week
Chateau Ste. Michelle


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Super Travel

January 14, 2015
The sporting world turns its eyes toward the Super Bowl every winter, as the months-long NFL season reaches its apex. For this year’s edition, the league returns to warmer weather (the 2014 game was held in New Jersey): Glendale, Arizona, home of University of Phoenix Stadium and the Arizona Cardinals. But whether it’s the rare cold-weather host like in 2014 or the southwestern flavor of the Grand Canyon State, it’s a sure bet every year that the championship game will be played in a great travel destination.

With our catalog of consignment, charity auction travel packages, Mitch-Stuart can send your donors to any one of a number of the Super Bowl’s former host cities. Whether it’s an area that’s hosted a big number of big games, or just a football-mad metropolis that can turn high school contests into major events, these destinations are perfect for the pigskin fanatics in your donor community.

Miami has hosted the Super Bowl ten times over the years, with games split between the Orange Bowl and Sun Life Stadium. The former was the home of the University of Miami before its demolition, while the latter holds the Miami Dolphins. But the game is only part of the spectacle in the jewel of South Florida. For one thing, the Super Bowl’s early February placement on the calendar means that all of the tourists flock to the beaches with the kind of intensity only match by children escaping school for spring break. Local sports watering holes tend to show respect to local football favorites; Bokamper’s (named after linebacker/defensive end Kim Bokamper) and Bru’s Room (named after linebacker Bob Brudzinski) are perennials on any “best sports bar” list.

The Big Easy has hosted the Super Bowl on numerous occasions, and it’s obvious why – there may be no city in America that can become one non-stop party quite like New Orleans. The Saints run this town in terms of rooting interest, but fans of all allegiances can feel at home in the French Quarter. Sports bars like local favorite Cooter Brown’s combine sport and cuisine as well as anywhere in the country; Brown’s features boiled crawfish and raw oysters along with po’ boys and other, more traditional bar dishes. And of course, if it’s not football season, Mardi Gras and New Orleans Jazz Fest are pretty good excuses to end up in the Crescent City, as well.

But for the bidder that wants to feel like he or she is in football country, heading to Dallas might be the best option. The area has only hosted one Super Bowl to date – 2011’s showdown between Green Bay and Pittsburgh – but the sport is an integral part of the city’s life, at all levels. Friday nights are as often about high school football as they are about any other entertainment, while it seems like the entire city is in silver and blue on Sundays to cheer on the Cowboys. For the true fanatic, take a day trip south to Waco for the Texas Sports Hall of Fame, which is heavy on pigskin-centric exhibits.

Want to send your donors on a Super adventure? Reach out to a Mitch-Stuart, Inc. travel expert for more information.
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Travel to the New Year

December 30, 2014
Resolutions, champagne toasts at midnight and Kathy Griffin harassing Anderson Cooper on CNN: There are plenty of New Years Eve traditions, some better than others. But one of the most heartwarming is that of the party, the gathering where we all look forward to the new year with hope (and, in some cases, plenty of alcohol). Some of your donors may prefer to ring in the next revolution around the sun at home, with family and maybe a couple of friends. But others may be looking for that reason to celebrate with thousands, that excuse to head out into the world and welcome a new year in a new locale surrounded by new people.

You can make that happen.

At Mitch-Stuart, Inc., most of our flexible charity auction travel packages can be used at any time of the year. That can mean summer trips to the Caribbean, Spring Break sojourns to Southern California, or even once-in-a-lifetime tours of Europe. It also means the chance to be one of the thousands celebrating New Years Eve on television, rather than watching the revelers from home. Here are some of our favorite NYE destinations, and how we can help send your donors there.

Everyone knows about the celebration in New Yorks Times Square, of course. But if hanging out in a quasi-confined space with hundreds of thousands of fellow partygoers and a ton of confetti sounds overwhelming, there are plenty of other places to watch the clock count down. Whether its the Harbor Lights cruise and its views of the Manhattan skyline or the open bars at clubs around the city, New York has a party for every partier.

In Las Vegas, the Strip shuts down for New Years Eve, becoming a packed pedestrian plaza, with fireworks being shot off from the roofs of the casinos lining Las Vegas Boulevard. But the real shows are inside the citys nightclubs and on its stages, with star DJs, rock bands and even comedians playing in Sin City for the evening. For the best view, the LINQ High Roller will take riders 550 feet above the Strip for great views, champagne toasts and, in VIP pods, premium bar service.

Those looking for a warmer clime can also head to the Big Easy for the holiday and enjoy the Fleur-de-Lis Drop from Jackson Square. The city also has its own firework show over the Mississippi River as well, but the biggest draw to the Crescent City as usual is the French Quarter, where clubs and concert halls give visitors the chance to dance the night away. The day after, make sure to stop in to Emerils Restaurant for the traditional good luck dish, black eyed peas.

No matter where you or your donors ring in the New Year, we hope its filled with good works, great trips and the discovery of new cultures around the world. May all of your galas run smoothly, all of your auction items sell and your charitable deeds help make the world a better place.

Happy New Year!





Statue of Liberty
New York Times Square
House of Blues New Orleans
Las Vegas


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Ho-Ho-Holiday Travel

December 24, 2014
Christmastime is here, and if youre not already at or on your way to your preferred vacation spot for the holiday, it might be too late for 2014. Thankfully, youll get a chance to do it all again next year, and weve got you and your donors covered. No matter where your supporters would like to spend the holiday season, one of Mitch-Stuarts charity auction travel packages can put them on a plane to a relaxing, wonderful time, from the white Christmas of a ski slope to the white sand beaches of the Caribbean. Need some ideas especially for a Christmas in July-style gala auction? Why not think about

Ice skating at Rockefeller Center
Fairmont Chateau Whistler
Fairmont Chateau Whistler
Disneyland California
Philadelphia: Ice skating at Rockefeller Center, the Christmas tree lighting, the store window displays, reenacting scenes from Miracle on 34th Street on 34th Street itself the reasons to seek out New York City for Christmas are mostly well-known. Thats why tens of thousands of people go there every year. For a more relaxing experience, think about staying a short train ride away in the City of Brotherly Love. Philadelphia has its share of seasonal fun to explore, like the Christmas Light Show at Macys and the RiverRink at Penns Landing, with its views Delaware River and the Ben Franklin Bridge. Plus, day trips to Manhattan are a snap; travelers can head into the city by train during the day, then escape it when the hordes of tourists become too much.

British Columbia: The Western Canadian getaway is not only a wintery wonderland, but our package to Whistler is also great for a family, with a one-bedroom condo suitable for two adults and two children. The areas skiing is on par with the best of Europe, and Whistler averages almost 40 feet of snow per year, meaning that a December trip will very likely yield great conditions for downhill, cross-country or snowboarding. Back at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, meanwhile, even the pickiest eaters in the family will find something to love among the resorts culinary offerings, like The Grill Room and The Mallard Lounge. Of special distinction: the Portobello Market and Fresh Bakery is a great quick-stop for families, while the Spirit Room inside the Mallard Lounge is where the liquor connoisseurs congregate.

Southern California: The lower half of the Golden State has a combination of traditional-style celebrations and warm weather seen in very few other places. Those looking to escape the biting cold can stretch out on the beach (and take pictures that will make friends at home jealous!), of course. But there is also seasonal fun to be had; Disneyland in Anaheim offers a snowy Christmas parade every day, and fireworks light up the night sky on a regular basis as well. In Los Angeles, the shopping centers combine the outdoors, the spirit of the season and the consumerism of the season to bring patrons events like A Hollywood Christmas at the Grove and the Rodeo Drive Holiday Lighting in Beverly Hills. And the traditional house-lighting shows in Altadena along Christmas Tree Lane will remind anyone of Christmases past just ignore the illuminated palm trees in the other parts of the city.


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Turkey Day Travel

November 25, 2014
AAA projected that more than 43 million Americans took to the roads, flooded airport terminals and even stood in long, snaking lines at train stations to get out of town for Thanksgiving in 2013. For many of those who traveled over the holiday, the trips were to see relatives, all gathering around a table somewhere for turkey and pumpkin pie.

Tiffany & Co
Rockefeller Center
The Fairmont Royal Pavilion
Skiers at Four Seasons Jackson Hole
Next year, help your donors make that somewhere a little more exciting.

Mitch-Stuart, Inc., pairs with non-profit organizations to offer alluring charity auction travel packages to destinations around the world. Those can be used at any time, which means that when everyone else in the airport is schlepping to the same small towns they go to every year, your supporters can be heading to holiday fun in

New York! Dont make your donors watch the Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade on television next year. Send them to the Big Apple instead to celebrate the holiday in style, staying at the Plaza (in a Rose Suite, no less!) and shopping at Tiffanys with a $1,000 gift card. For supporters whove already taken care of Christmas presents, there are NYC packages that include brewery tours, Broadway show tickets, and even trips through the citys delis.

The Caribbean! If the first blasts of winter have left donors depressed, tell them to leave the galoshes behind and find sand between their toes rather than snow. Mitch-Stuart offers trips to locales throughout the region, but all-inclusive resorts like Bolongo Bay in St. Thomas will take care of everything from dinner to entertainment, while those looking for luxury can find it in Barbados at the Fairmont Royal Pavilion or the old-world charm of The Buccaneer in St. Croix.

The Rockies! For those who seek out the cold of winter to experience the thrill of careening down a mountain, Thanksgiving is a perfect time to hit the slopes of ski resorts in Colorado and other regions. Send donors to any resort in Vail or Keystone, Colorado, Lake Tahoe, Nevada, or Jackson Hole, Wyoming. A day of negotiating double black diamond ski runs will burn off any caloric surpluses from a massive Thanksgiving dinner.

Getting ready for spring galas? Want to add that wow factor to your non-profit benefit auction? Reach out today to a Mitch-Stuart rep!


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Museum Oddities

November 19, 2014
The Louvre? Nice enough, sure. The Guggenheim? Alright. MOMA? Of course. When one travels, its easy to head to one of the celebrated homes of high-minded exhibits and historically-important collections.

But sometimes, its more fun to be surrounded by plush bunnies. Or massive neon lights.

Mitch-Stuart, Inc., can send the winners of gala auctions to destinations far and wide with its nonprofit charity auction travel packages. Some of those places, like New York, Washington D.C. or Paris, are known in part for their vast collections of art, scientific touchstones or even sporting memorabilia. But not every museum is a depository of important cultural or scientific artifacts. Some are homes to strange blocks of curios, while others are repositories for the unloved or unappreciated pieces of lives past. When in one of these top tourist destinations, look out for these off-beat museums.

It should surprise no one that the Los Angeles area, home of the human oddities on Hollywood Boulevard and that repository of quirks and quacks, the movie industry, features two of the strangest museums around. On Venice Boulevard in Culver City, the Museum of Jurassic Technology features exhibits like The Stink Ant of the Cameroon and The Horn of Mary Davis of Saughall, though theres still a debate as to whether the museum itself is a serious endeavor (and of what theme?) or a parody of private-collection museums. On the other side of the L.A. basin, the Bunny Museum in Pasadena contains a collection of more than 30,000 rabbit-related items, including stuffed animals, collectible figures and even a small crew of house bunnies, pets of the owners.

In Boston, the Museum of Bad Art features anywhere from 50 to 70 pieces at any one time, each showcasing what happens when the best of intentions meets the worst of talent. Works like Lucy in the Sky with Flowers and Mama and Babe quite obviously come from a good place, but also can be tough to look at. The museum ends up being a tribute to good intentions as much as a place to critique the less-talented, though theres plenty of opportunities for the latter, as well. Now with two locations in the Boston area to visit, MOBA (as its abbreviated) draws fans of the off-beat and outright awful year-round.

Las Vegas is underrated in terms of its high art scene (any city with as much money as Vegas will have a collection or two worth seeing, like the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art), but its two best museums have more to do with the citys history than any imported idea of art. Downtown Las Vegas is home to the Mob Museum, a collection of exhibits that trace the rise and fall of organized crime in America. It is home to, among other artifacts, the actual wall where the St. Valentines Day Massacre took place (the massacre involved Al Capone-hired killers in Chicago) and is housed in the former Las Vegas Post Office and Courthouse. Up the road is another Vegas-centric collection, the Neon Museum, which hosts almost 150 of the citys signature neon signs from casinos and other businesses. Guided tours take visitors past signs as old as the Moulin Rouge, which was billed as the countrys first interracial hotel in 1955, and as recent as the OSheas Casino signage removed during the LINQ renovations on the Strip.

Want to give a donor the chance to visit a unique collection for a one-of-a-kind photo opportunity? Reach out to a Mitch-Stuart, Inc. representative today!


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Winter is Coming

August 26, 2014
Theres a reason that the end of August is often referred to as the dog days of summer, and its not that people have overwhelming love for them like we do our pets. Its hot across most of the country, kids are getting restless as school is approaching, and everything from the sports world to summer television seems to be saying, talk to us again next month.

In the non-profit world, however, many organizations spend August gearing up for fall fundraising, and in particular, yearly gala or auction events. That means reaching out to us to talk about partnering for including consignment travel packages to destinations around the world, but it also means thinking about what will be on the minds of donors come the fall.

Let us help: Snow.

Offering the right trips that will garner the most interest is an important part of putting together a charity auction, and we can help. For your donors who love winter wonderlands, heres a small sampling of the type of vacations you can offer (risk-free to your organization, of course!) by partnering with Mitch-Stuart, Inc.

When thoughts turn to winter, the mind almost immediately conjures images of snow, be it on city streets or mountaintops. While the former condition may be as annoying as beautiful, a peak covered in snow is an opportunity for high speeds and downhill thrills. Whether in the Canadian Rockies, the American west or even the mountains of Vermont, skiers can bid on perfect winter vacations when your non-profit pairs with Mitch-Stuart on a nonprofit travel package or experience. Resorts like the Fairmont Chateau Whistler in British Columbia and the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe in Nevada are known for their luxury services for the indoorsy types, as well, with spa packages and great dining.

The winter also has its share of gift-giving holidays, including Christmas and Valentines Day. Shopping malls get extremely crowded and browsing on the Internet can be more difficult than browsing a stores selection in person. Why not make a vacation out of the experience of finding that perfect present for a significant other, family member or even for the entire office? One of our most popular packages, the to-the-point-named Shop Til You Drop!, combines four nights at The Plaza in New York City with a $2,000 shopping spree at either Bergdorf-Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue or Bloomingdales. Take the trip in December and revel in the splendor of a city preparing to celebrate the holidays, while crossing off errands from your to-do-when-I-get-home list.

When its time for those holidays, the stress levels increase. As families return to a home base, theres cleaning and cooking to be done groceries to be bought and sets of the nice dishes to be broken out. Donors can skip every one of those steps by bringing the family aboard either a Celebrity Cruises or Royal Caribbean International cruise ship for a trip through the tranquil waters of the Caribbean or Bahamas. Guests aboard each are treated to gourmet meals and 24-hour room service (no more standing in front of the refrigerator, picking at leftover turkey) along with state-of-the-art fitness facilities to work off all that food. With the entire family aboard, your donor can even take his or her photo for next years holiday cards..
Skiing the Rockies
Bloomingdales
The Plaza New York
Celebrity Solstice, Virgin Islands


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Learning on the Road

August 19, 2014
In the next couple of weeks, kids will go back to school, picking up a bag full of textbooks on the first day to learn about everything from the founding of the United States to the creation of the worlds great works of art. Theyll be presented by teachers as words on the page, artifacts of history that have long since been left to the passage of time.

The National Mall
Lincoln Memorial
Gettysburg Battlefield
Louvre, Paris, France
But those seminal events, those works of art, that meaningful history, doesnt have to be left behind. At Mitch-Stuart, Inc., we put together charity auction travel packages for any number of different reasons: Relaxation, excitement, a change-of-pace or even an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. But some of our favorite vacations involve opportunities for donors to bring their families along and make history come alive. Give your donors the gift of education with one of these great travel packages.

Washington, DC is a living, breathing civics classroom, and a trip there can give life to an otherwise dry subject. The National Mall is filled with museums (almost all Smithsonian institutions feature free admission) and monuments, but with a little advance planning, travelers can also see the halls of power as they operate today. Reaching out to the local representatives office can produce anything from a Capitol Hill tour led by a staff member to gallery passes to watch the House or Senate in action. Especially worthy of attention: The tour of the monuments at night is breathtaking.

To go a little further back in American history, a trip to Gettysburg immerses the entire family in the Civil War. The turning point of the Civil War, the Battle of Gettysburg was one of the bloodiest of the war, and because of that the city was also the site of President Abraham Lincolns famous Gettysburg Address. Send a donor and his/her family here for bus tours, museums and reenactments. For when the history gets to be too much, visitors can retreat to the 30-acre nature reserve and relax.

Not all forms of history are about war, though. For those of a more artistic sensibility, Paris is one of the worlds leaders in galleries and art history, with museums like the Louvre and the Musee dOrsay. One of our trips to the French capital includes half-day tours of each of those, plus the Centre George Pompidou, home of the Musee National dArt Moderne, the largest modern art museum in Europe. Works of great historical significance to the world are located in each, including those by Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Wassily Kandinsky, Vincent van Gogh and, of course, Leonardo da Vincis Mona Lisa. Its practically a full AP Art course masquerading as a city.


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Summers Last Hurrah

August 13, 2014
Shopping carts filled with pencils and folders, registration days and What I Did During My Summer Vacation reports: While parents everywhere get ready to send their children back to school, those kids are desperately trying to hold on to their last days of freedom and escape the onset of the school year.

Help them.

Mitch-Stuart, Inc., puts together great charity auction travel packages for any occasion and with any combination of family members. Sometimes, that means romantic getaways for parents, and other times it means event-based itineraries to awards shows or sporting events. But in August, many families are looking for one last, great adventure before the school year begins, the type of experience that will make the other kids on the bus jealous when junior recounts his/her summer exploits. Give your donors those opportunities with one of these trips.

Of course, when one thinks of trips for families, the first idea often involves Mickey Mouse. Whether its Disneyland in Southern California or Disney World in Orlando, adventures to either coasts Magic Kingdom are fun for the whole family. For either, though, Mitch-Stuart can round out the trip with some great options. Our package to Anaheim also includes a trip to Knotts Berry Farm and a dinner at Medieval Times, along with a suite for four as accommodations. If Florida is the choice, trips can include excursions to everything from SeaWorld to Universal Studios.

If neither California nor Florida are in the cards, though, Mitch-Stuart can still help send a donor and his or her family to any of 50 different waterparks in the country. Whether its one of the Great Wolf Lodge waterparks in destinations like Kansas City or the Pocono Mountains, or perhaps CoCo Key Water Resort in the Boston area, there is family-friendly fun in 22 different states and even Ontario, Canada to be had. Each park has its own signature slides and amusements, and each package also includes quad-room accommodations and breakfast buffets.

Of course, the simplest way of bidding adieu to the summer is to find a beach and spend those last days of freedom running through the sand. Weve mentioned our beach trips on this blog before, but one in particular is worth highlighting: The family-friendly confines of an all-inclusive Palace Resort in Cancun. With clubs and lounges for kids, separate pools for youth and even nighttime movie screenings, theres plenty to distract children from the upcoming school year and with swim-up bars and pampering spas, theres plenty to distract parents, too.
Disneyland
Seaworld
Great Wolf Parks
Palace Resort


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Getting Ready for the Fall

August 08, 2014
August is upon us, and the weather across much of the country is helping the month live up to the phrase the dog days of summer. But as heat drives people to the beach (or, at a minimum, to air conditioning), charity auction planners have to start thinking about the fall, to galas and fundraising events. What will be the trips and travel opportunities that will bring in the most revenue for a non-profit?

This time of year is a favorite of ours at Mitch-Stuart, Inc., because we get to help pair non-profits with great charity auction travel packages for the fall season. One of the questions were asked consistently is, whats popular right now? At this time of year, here are some categories to think about when deciding what to offer to donors.

When it comes to fundraising packages, it is hard to go wrong during any season with offering trips to places like New York City, Napa Valley and Las Vegas. The Big Apple is popular at all times of year, to people from around the world (ask anyone who has ever been in Times Square!). Trip packages there include foodie adventures, shopping sprees and even tickets to attend the Tony Awards. For the oenophile, Napa Valley involves wine tours, along with culinary delights. And Las Vegas, the City of Sin, is exactly what one would expect: Bright, flashy, with big-name chefs, live entertainment and even year-round chances for golfers to get in a few swings.

When the fall comes around, families start thinking about places to go for the holidays, as well. Give your donors a chance to include their families with trips to a place like Disneyland, which includes a stay in a hotel suite big enough to give everyone a chance to spread out. For those who might be looking to get the family outside, a trip to Buena Vista, CO could be popular, as well; our package includes a full week for two adults and two kids on a dude ranch, for an all-inclusive adventure involving hot springs pools, hayrides and horseback riding.

Not everyone is a fan of the fall, of course and certainly those in snowy climes may do some dreaming about being beachside as fall gives way to winter. Those planning for a gala later in the fall could do well by offering a sunny giveaway to the Caribbean. Whether its the thrill of a waterside casino in Aruba, a cruise with an ocean-view stateroom or the ease of an all-inclusive resort in St. Thomas, your donors will thank you for giving them the snowbird trip of a lifetime and youll thank them for their generous contribution to your fundraising efforts!
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Destination Spotlight: Monaco and the French Riviera

June 24, 2014
There are countless reasons to head to Europe for a summer vacation. Comedian Eddie Izzard once described the continent as where the history comes from. Some of the biggest events in the world, both cultural and sporting, take place in Europe. Of course, there are those who visit for its spectacular outdoors settings, be it skiing in the winter or gorgeous beaches in the summer.

Mitch-Stuart, Inc., loves to send non-profit donors across the Atlantic Ocean via one of our charity auction travel packages, and one of our favorite destinations on the continent is Monaco. The tine principality is the second smallest country in the world (on The Vatican takes up less space), but it fits more fun into its .78 square-mile area than one could possibly imagine. Best of all, it can act as a home base to visit the entire French Riviera, stretching from Toulon to the Italian border.

Within Monaco itself, visitors can find plenty of activities and diversions, but the gambling of Monte Carlo may be the best known. However, anywhere that gambling takes hold, other high-end services follow closely behind, and the dining, shopping and spas of Monaco are world-class. Gamblers have to have something to do when they step away from the tables, after all. It can seem like every restaurant, from the dinner-and-a-view of Le Grill de LHotel de Paris to the open kitchen at superstar chef Joel Robuchons eponymous eatery, is featured in travel magazines and on cooking television shows.

In addition to the everyday opulence of Monaco, two major events draw thousands to the south of France every year, for very different reasons. The Monaco Grand Prix is one of the worlds most famous car races, having been run 72 times since 1929 and being one of the three races to make up motorsports triple crown (alongside the Indianapolis 500 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans). It is often preceded on the social calendar by the Cannes Film Festival, one of the worlds biggest and most important film festivals. Winners of the top prize at Cannes, the Palme dOr, include Pulp Fiction, Sex, Lies and Videotape and Apocalypse Now, among other cineaste favorites.

Of course, even stripped of all of those attractions, the French Riviera would still be a major travel destination, thanks to its location. The Spanish coast (including Barcelona and dance-music island haven Ibiza) and Italian cities like Genoa and Livorno are all within close proximity to the Riviera, making the French locale a perfect home base for a southern European adventure. Beaches like Paloma attract jetsetters from around the world, and Saint Tropez is synonymous with luxurious resort living; it turns out being located on the some of the worlds most naturally-beautiful coastline has its advantages.
The Fairmont Monte Carlo
The Fairmont Monte Carlo
The Fairmont Monte Carlo


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Destination Spotlight: Hawaii

June 18, 2014
Spring officially turns to summer on Saturday morning, and travelers around America will head to warm-weather destinations like Miami (June average high temperature in Miami: 87 degrees) New Orleans (average high: 90) or even Las Vegas (average high: 100). But sun worshippers dont have to spend their vacations sweating.

The Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii
Hyatt Regency Maui
Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa
Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa
With average highs in the low 80s, even at the peak of summer, Hawaii is a beautiful, temperate place to send donors and their families. Its also a place of surprising diversity, with activities for everyone to be had somewhere throughout the island chain. At Mitch-Stuart, we offer a variety of charity auction travel packages that can give your donors once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, represented by four different Hawaiian islands.

From 36 holes of championship golf to snow-capped mountains, the big island of Hawaii hosts nearly all climates, and therefore nearly all sorts of adventures. But there are more esoteric activities on the island as well; Kona coffee can only be produced on the big island, and many of the farms that grow the beans have tours and tasting rooms to visit. Also worth seeing: Kilauea, one of the worlds most active volcanoes.

Maui has a mixture of urban and rural areas, offering a little bit of everything for the traveler. Those looking to commune with nature can head to Haleakala National Park and watch a spectacular sunrise or sunset from the summit of the dormant Haleakala volcano or hike through the Haleakala Crater, which sinks more than 2,500 feet into the island floor. City slickers, meanwhile, can walk through Lahaina, the former capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii, and check out the restaurants and nightlife of Front Street.

Travelers looking for a more city-like vacation experience would do well to head to Oahu. The island, informally known as The Gathering Place, is home to Hawaiis capital, Honolulu, and about 75 percent of the states population. Its also home to one of Hawaiis best-known tourist destinations, Waikiki Beach, where white sand is reserved for both sunbathers and surfers and where nightlife reigns just steps from the ocean.

Nicknamed The Garden Isle for its verdant fields and forests, Kauai may be one of the lesser-known outposts, but its beauty makes it worth a visit. The island is the home of the Princeville at Hanalei, one of the worlds great golf clubs; its Prince course is one of the best on any of the Hawaiian islands. For those who like their outdoors time sans crooked sticks and golf carts, boating adventures along the Na Pali Coast are very popular.


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Destination Spotlight: Italy

May 27, 2014
As summer approaches, the allure of European travel is hard for the wanderlust-infected to ignore. Kids are out of school, vacation time at companies tends to be easier to procure and long flights can be rewarded with longer stays, rather than flying halfway around the world for a weekend. For those looking to see the best of what the E.U. has to offer, Italy features one of the best combinations of modern and the old world, outdoorsy charms and comfortable surroundings, and city bustle and countryside relaxation.

Its the type of destination that appeals to a wide range of people meaning that non-profits organizing a fundraising auction or event can maximize interest and bidding with a trip to one of Europes great vacation spots. And once a donor has secured a trip via one of our consignment auction travel packages, you can also act as concierge by referring them to any of the following monuments and attractions throughout the country.

Of course, those interested in history will find a plethora of day trips and activities in the country. From the Sistine Chapel to the Colosseum and the ruins of Pompeii, Italy is a high school history textbook come to life. The country is especially loaded with religious artifacts, like the centuries-in-the-making Basilica di San Marco, St. Peters Basilica and, though it is technically its own country, the Vatican. Even the famed Roman Forum has a great deal of religious history attached; among the destroyed buildings are the foundations of basilicas and temples.

As one would imagine, considering how Italian food is a near-universal staple of restaurants worldwide, the foodie adventurer has plenty to do while in country as well. Italian cuisine is best known for exports like pasta and pizza, of course, coming from Michelin Guide-beloved eateries like Osteria Francescana and Pergola, but it does not receive proper credit for its seafood. Restaurants along the Amalfi Coast, restaurants like Marina Grande and Osteria da Luisella serve up fish so fresh, as the guidebook writers at Lonely Planet once wrote, that it is almost still flapping.

One of the easiest ways to work off all the extra calories from Italian cooking may be to head out on a shopping trip. Whether its the modern art pieces of Capris Pop Gallery or the high end fashions of Milan, there are enough outlets in nearly every major city to force a traveler to check extra baggage on the flight home. But it is Florence that may attract the most shoppers at all price points, from the luxury shops of Via Tornabuoni to the markets and antiques of Mercato Centrale. For a more local experience, head to Cascine Market on a Tuesday for steals and deals.





Sistine Chapel
Roman Colosseum
Piazza della Signoria, Italy
St Peters Basilica


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Memorial Day Getaways

May 20, 2014
The school year is almost over, the temperature is rising and the kids are ready to skip town. Memorial Day weekend is one of the biggest travel holidays of the year, thanks to those reasons and so many more.

Bali
Bay Hill Florida
Ritz Laguna Niguel
Fairmont Empress, Vancouver Canada
At Mitch-Stuart, Inc., we have travel packages for charity auctions that can be used year-round, including during the weekend that is often considered the gateway to the summer. And while an extra day off may not be enough time to send your donors to some of the more far-flung, exotic locales just flying from the United States to Bali would take up most of the time off there are still plenty of fun weekend trips that will allow them to make the most of the bonus 24 hours of vacation.

The combination of its family-friendly resorts and great weather make Florida a favorite Memorial Day weekend destination. With more than a dozen different catalog options for a Sunshine State getaway, Mitch-Stuart can make Florida a reality for a donors dreams, no matter what they may be. Disney World? How about a trip with park-hopping passes, pools and arcades? Is golf higher on the agenda? Our package to Bay Hill gives donors two rounds of golf and an hour of private instruction to shake the winter rust off of the swing. Or maybe your donors would like something a little more low key and relaxing? Our Key West trip, complete with complimentary beach chairs and umbrellas, can fill the bill.

If Florida is too far out of the way for donors, the other coast is just as inviting. Memorial Day weekend can be the perfect time for one of your donors to visit Southern California, whether its being wrapped in the luxury of the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, taking the tram above Palm Springs for breathtaking views of the Coachella Valley or star-gazing while in a poolside bungalow at a resort in Santa Monica. It seems like beach life is never more than a stones throw away when visiting the Golden State, and spending Memorial Day laying back and relaxing on the sand is a perfect way to welcome the summer months.

Not every vacationer is seeking out the sun come Memorial Day weekend, of course. In many southern parts of the country, it feels like summer has already arrived by the time its the end of May. For those donors or organizations in warmer climes, a trip to a city like Seattle could be a great break before the heat gets too extreme at home. Split that vacation time between the Fairmont Olympic Hotel in Seattle, near tourist hot spots like Pike Place Market and the Seattle Waterfront, and the Conde Nast Gold List-recognized Fairmont Empress, in stunning Victoria, B.C. With average May highs in the mid-60s during the month of May, Seattle is a great place for one last fling with spring.


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Getting Away: Vacationing In Nature

April 16, 2014
Theres nothing like the energy of city life: The hustle, the bustle, the stop-and-go traffic, the constant feeling of the crush of humanity closing in all around you, the smog. Sometimes, as the commercial says, you wanna get away. With Earth Day approaching, its time to celebrate those outdoor destination vacations, those locations where we can go to get out of the office and commune with nature, whether its an untouched beach, a snowy mountainside or anywhere else in the great wide open.

Thankfully, we at Mitch-Stuart, Inc., can send your donors to stunning vacations in nature just as easily as we can send them to a luxury hotel in a major city. Take a look at some of the consignment travel auction packages that we can put together to help non-profits raise money and give donors a once-in-a-lifetime experience:

Big Sur, California Coast
Jackson Hole
Hubbard Glacier, Celebrity Cruise
For spectacular coastal views, the Northern California ocean-and-mountain favorite Big Sur may be the best combination of nature and civilization. Staying at the Highlands Inn in Carmel means basing ones vacation in a city of less than 4,000 people, according to the 2010 Census, and being close enough to one of the California coasts most gorgeous views to see it from the hotel. From there, take a car ride down the Pacific Coast Highway down through other coastal villages like Lucia and Gorda, or explore the Los Padres National Forest to the inland east.

If your donors prefer big mountains without the ocean view, Jackson Hole may be the trip to offer. Whether its on skis or by snowmobile, the Wyoming resort town makes for an excellent home base while exploring the mountain west. With Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks just miles away, visitors get glimpses of a frontier life long ago left behind, while also taking in a serenity and calm that city life rarely affords. At the end of the day, they can also soak in an outdoor heated pool or grab a drink at the Rustic Inns lobby bar before heading back to their cabin.

When it comes to wilderness in America, though, there is no land less explored than that of Alaska. While Mitch-Stuart, Inc., cant take donors by helicopter into the middle of the vast, unconquered territory of our 49th state (yet), we can send them as close as possible, without having to scrimp on luxury. A seven-day cruise aboard a Celebrity Cruises ship can take explorers past the Inside Passage, to the Misty Fjords National Monument (and its 2.2 million acres of wilderness) and the Hubbard Glacier. And if all of that unspoiled beauty becomes too much, your donors can retire to their veranda stateroom, or perhaps the on-ship spa.


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Travel with a Ticket

February 04, 2014
Masters
Indianapolis 500
Kentucky Derby
Kentucky Derby
 
On February 6, the pitchers and catchers of the Arizona Diamondbacks will report to training camp in Scottsdale, AZ. Theyll be the first players to open pre-season workouts, and the first athletes to send the thoughts of sports fans racing to the spring months. But the return of baseball is far from the only sporting event to think about when the snow starts to melt and the days get longer; the calendar is loaded in the months of March, April and May with major events and championships in several sports that your donors might care about. Why not couple a charity auction travel opportunity with a ticket to a major spring sporting event? Mitch-Stuart has you covered, with trips revolving around everything from one of Americas oldest sporting events to one of the countrys most prestigious golf tournaments.

Since 1934, the Masters Tournament has held a special place in the hearts of golf fans. Traditionally the first of the PGA Tours four major tournaments each year, it takes place in Augusta, GA. every April, a time of year when the temperature averages in the 70s and there is little precipitation. Its a perfect setting for a vacation, too, with Hickory Knob Resort State Park and the cities of Savannah and Atlanta all within reasonable driving distance.

Not every sports fan craves the tranquility of the links, though. For those who like their competition to be a bit louder, consider heading to the capital of Indiana for the Indianapolis 500. More than 250,000 fans cram into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway over Memorial Day weekend to see their favorite drivers race while enjoying experiences ranging from infield tailgating to, as Mitch-Stuart has arraigned for charity auction winners, seats in the Penthouse Tower. Its a holiday weekend away at one of the most prestigious race events in the world.

Cars at the Indy 500 can boast of more than 600 horsepower, but in Kentucky, the most important race is between combatants that dont need engines at all. The Kentucky Derby is the first leg of horse racings Triple Crown, and is not just a sporting event, but a way of life for residents and expatriates of the Bluegrass State. The Mitch-Stuart travel package takes winners to both the Derby and the Kentucky Oaks race on the day prior, while even taking care of souvenirs. Bring your own big hats, though.


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WOW your Valentine!

January 28, 2014
This Valentines Day, get some romantic planning advice from the experts at Mitch-Stuart, Inc. They know the worlds top destinations and have provided some options for sweeping your loved one off to parts unknown. As part of their planning for 2014 auctions, raffles and other fundraising events using travel packages and experiences, theyve got the goods on whats great this Valentines Day.

Consider a trip to Sonomas wine country. Set in the idyllic, world famous wine growing region abundant with local products, The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa features a signature Michelin award-winning restaurant, a treasured golf course set on 177 acres of rolling terrain, and one of the top spas in the country. For hundreds of years, ancient thermal mineral waters have graced the site of The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa. Today, the resort is proud to be one of the only luxury spa resorts in the country with its own source of thermal mineral water.

Guests will savor the fruits of the wine country on a personalized five-hour tour of the Sonoma Valley in a chauffeured luxury Sedan. Whether you are first-time visitors or veteran wine tasters, you'll enjoy an enlightening, fun-filled day in this picturesque region. The informative winery tour will be customized based on your individual wine preferences.

Find Love in the City of Light. Whisk your Valentine off to the Hotel Littre in quintessentially romantic Paris which is sure to bring a spark to your life, from the fashion, the culture, the architectural heritage, gourmet cuisine, and of course, the romance! Come explore the capital of France and discover the magic that has beckoned visitors for millennia. Youll visit one of the worlds most iconic landmarks, the Eiffel Tower, on your half-day tour, and youll be blown away by the beauty of Paris at night on your Paris by Night tour - bonjour!

There is so much to see in Paris, from Place de la Bastille, a historical and modernly political square, to the trendy Right Bank district of La Marais, the artists studios of Montparnasse, to the high fashion districts of Faubourg Saint-Honore.

Treat her (or him!) like royalty.
What could be more luxurious that a trip to Monte Carlo The Fairmont Monte Carlo is a unique four-star luxury resort located in the very heart of Monaco. A principality known to everyone, Monaco is nestled between Italy and France on the Cte d'Azur, and when you ascend to the top of The Fairmont, you can see the majestic view of all three countries! Immerse yourself in the beauty and sophistication of this world-class destination with a stay at the Fairmont Monte Carlo.

The Riviera offers over 300 days of sunshine throughout the year. Although the fabulous climate is a primary attraction, visitors are also drawn to Monacos warm engaging colors, the variety of its surroundings, and the friendliness of the locals. From the deep blue of the Mediterranean to the dazzling white canyons of the inland countryside, this region never stops revealing surprises.

Pamper the People you Love. Embrace the warmth of Cancun, Riviera Maya, Cozumel or Isla Mujeres, Mexico for some well-deserved pampering, discover the freedom of an all-inclusive stay at Palace Resorts, where one price covers your hotel, mouthwatering dining options and snacks, top shelf drinks, non-motorized water sports, exuberant nightly entertainment, and so much more. Palace Resorts deliver a better class of all-inclusive in tantalizing destinations throughout Mexico. There is no comprising on your experience!

Youll find luxurious touches and elegant appointments at every Palace Resort, ensuring that regardless of the destination, your vacation will be exceptional. Bask in the beauty of Cancun, which sits at the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula, where you are invited to explore the areas natural reserves, archeological sights and attractions. A few miles south along the ancient Riviera Maya, are three more Palaces, including two offering some of the finest golf courses and spas in Mexico, dot the white sands of the coast. The islands of Cozumel and Isla Mujeres are home to more Caribbean Palaces and on Mexicos Pacific Coast. With six all-inclusive Palace Resorts dotting the sands along gorgeous beaches, to choose from, one of them is certain to provide the perfect setting for your next vacation.

Be sure to check out the Mitch-Stuart Destinations of Excellence Catalogue for more treasured trips





Couple drinking wine
Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa
Paris Eiffel Tower
Paris
Monte Carlo
Fairmont Monte Carlo
Palace Resort Isla Mujeres


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Destination Spotlight: Some Like it Cold!

January 21, 2014
The ski season is heating up and as you plan winter auctions, raffles and other fundraising events using travel packages and experiences, look to Mitch-Stuart, Inc. for the top cold weather wonders of the world.

Grab a mug of cocoa and read about some terrific trips and relax, knowing that Mitch-Stuart will handle every detail of the vacation experience from the minute the trip is sold to the time your donor returns home.

Skiers
Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort and Spa
Killington Grand Resort
Four Seasons Resort Jackson Hole
Four Seasons Resort Jackson Hole
Fairmont Chateau Whistler
Skiers at Four Seasons Jackson Hole
Perfect Winter Wonderland
British Columbia, Canada
Explore your passions for adventure and relaxation in Whistler. A scenic 90-minute drive from Vancouver along the Sea To Sky Highway brings you into the heart of this alpine valley. Renowned as the top-ranked ski area in North America and home of the 2010 Olympic & Paralympic Winter Games, Whistler easily rivals the major ski regions of Europe, and offers true ski-in and ski-out convenience. Beyond the slopes, Whistler offers an extensive list of other indoor and outdoor pursuits.

Fairmont Chateau Whistler presents a unique collection of dining options that capture the essence of Whistler's lifestyle. Tastefully designed rooms with spectacular mountain or village views were created to blend with the natural alpine setting.

Centerpiece in a Mountain Crown
Quebec, Canada
Experience an unforgettable adventure as you escape from the everyday into a snow-covered winter wonderland. Fairmont Tremblant offers skiers 94 first rate runs and 600 acres that add up to a ski holiday that will soothe your soul and challenge your skills. The architectural masterpiece of this Mont Tremblant ski resort rooted in the legends of Quebec is the state-of-the-art facilities - climb aboard a high-speed chair lift at the doorstep to ski the slopes of Mont Tremblant Ski Hill and explore the mountains.

Fairmont Tremblant sits at the foot of the majestic Laurentian peaks, tucked into the heart of the region's most picturesque village. After a day of skiing out on the slopes, indulge in grandeur and relax in accommodating luxury at The Fairmont. Enjoy culinary delights from magnificent taste providers, treat yourself to a massage, or simply rest in the elegant Nansen Lounge. Proposing a refined choice of wines in the glass, vintage ports, a variety of martinis, or delicious specialty coffees, you will doubtless find what pleases you.

Ski the Best of the West
Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Nevada or Wyoming
World-renowned for a variety of challenging and breathtaking slopes, the West boasts incredible mountains that offer some of the best skiing in the country! Utah has the best white, fluffy powder covering its peaks, Nevada offers an abundance of annual snow-fall, and Idaho has over 20,000 skiable acres for you! From the fantastic snow and four terrain parks of Vail, to the untamed wilderness of the Teton Mountain Range in Wyoming, get ready for world-class skiing in your favorite destination!

Get your winter sports fix some of Western Americas best slopes! Whether youre looking for the perfect trail, amazing views, or the charm of a memorable destination, youll have access to it all! Choose from amazing mountain ridge resort destinations, including Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Vail and Keystone in Colorado; breathtaking views of Lake Tahoe; and the steep terrain and endless backcountry of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Sun Valley, Idaho was the nations first snow ski resort, and continues to draw ski-enthusiasts and snow bunnies with its long seasons. Nine powder-filled bowls, eight stunning peaks, 50 immaculately groomed runs, and three award-winning terrain parks make Park Citys mountains the perfect place for you to discover adventure in Utah!

Colorful Landscape of Vermont
Killington, Vermont
Located in Killington, amid the scenic splendor of Vermont's Green Mountains, the acclaimed Killington Grand Resort offers the ultimate mountain vacation experience. Stay in the heart of an alpine paradise, where skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, snowshoeing and sleighing are just steps away on six mountains with 140 trails, and over 70 miles of terrain.

Killington is the perfect mountain escape in other seasons too. Hike and mountain bike on 45 miles of lift-serviced trails, enjoy 270 holes of spectacular Green Mountain golf on 15 challenging courses in the area, including Killington's championship 18-hole course, and discover breathtaking panoramic views! Antique shops and craft fairs abound, where youre sure to find the perfect treasure to commemorate your vacation for years to come. Gourmet dining, musical events and local theatres are close by, including the restored Paramount Theatre, so that you can relax in town at a leisurely pace.

Discover Lake Tahoe's Pristine Beauty
Lake Tahoe, Nevada
Discover an alpine paradise at the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe. Nestled within the Sierra Mountain Range, the stunning locale of this Four Diamond Lake Tahoe hotel is the ideal setting for your next ski vacation! Tempt Lady Luck in the Casino, and after a day on the slopes ease tired muscles with a deep-tissue massage in the world-class spa. From delicious cuisine and inviting guestrooms to luxurious amenities and services, you'll experience an incomparable mountain escape at this Hyatt hotel in Lake Tahoe.

Take your pick of ski slopes, from Heavenly and Northstar-at-Tahoe, to Alpine Meadows, and Squaw Valley. And Tahoe even has amazing options for cross-country skiing buffs. For the travelers who are not alpine-inclined, enjoy a sleigh ride through the woods, or a snowmobile adventure in the Tahoe National Forest! Of course, you could always simply take in the natural wonders and remarkable sights!










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Harness the Power of the Creative Brainstorm

December 10, 2013
For philanthropic organizations looking for fresh ideas for fundraising events and auctions or overall business improvements, brainstorming is a natural way to gather thoughts for consideration. But does your organization brainstorm strategically, with a real end goal in mind? All the creative ideas in the world don't add up to results unless they link to an overall strategic direction, set by the brainstorm leader, whose job is also to fire up the group! Some teams dread brainstorming, seeing it as a waste of time or as a cause for performance anxiety. It neednt be! Here are some pointers that work for Mitch-Stuart, Inc.

The judgment-free zone. The atmosphere should be welcoming, positive and all-inclusive, with the promise that every idea will be considered. This way, the participants wont be hesitant to share their ideas for fear of ridicule.

Dont go in cold. Brainstorms work best when the participants are prepared. This can mean anything from preparing a detailed creative brief describing the situation and the goals as well as providing suggested websites to visit for more background.

Start by setting the objectives. Do you want a slew of creative ideas to break an existing event out of the doldrums? Are you seeking to create a draw for a new audience segment? A helpful way to start is to discuss some trends in the category s well as what the competition is up to. Non-profits must also keep in mind the serious nature of the cause they represent/raise money for. This doesn't mean you can't be creative, just keep ideas within certain bounds.

Let the fun begin. Once people start shouting out suggestions or solutions, write them down all of them. Even though some ideas wont make sense at the time, they may lead to other things. The best ideas often come from a simple phrase. My donors love exotic travel for instance, can open the doors for bringing in expert partners such as Mitch-Stuart, Inc. to do the heavy lifting.

Avoid diminishing returns. During any given brainstorm, there is typically a time where the initial excitement dulls and everybody falls into an awkward silence. Sometimes rewording the initial objective or goal is all you need to do to get the juices flowing again. People just need to see it in a different light. Or else bring out the candy!

Never stop brainstorming. Even when the meeting is over and everyone has returned to their desks, create an email chain, or a running word document with the top ideas, fleshed out to give the team something more to build on. A creative team leader can help further the concepts by adding greater detail and graphics to ensure the best result.
 
If traditional creative brainstorming isnt working for you, check out speedstorming a combination of brainstorming and speed-dating or brainstorming on steroids.


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More Ways to Delight your Donors

November 19, 2013
Last month we shared with you some of the different and delightful travel experiences offered by the latest Mitch-Stuart Inc. Destinations of Excellence Catalogue. The catalogue is so well-stocked with excellent adventures, it required a second look.

As you begin planning for your most successful 2014 auction, raffles and other fundraising event using travel packages and experiences, look no further than the catalogue but start right here to get some great ideas.

For the Family The experts at Mitch-Stuart, Inc. have combed the globe for family-friendly experiences which include fun-packed trips to the original Disneyland as well as Disney World; or if your tastes wander to the sunniest climes consider Hawaii and the Fairmont Kea Lani, Cancuns Palace Resorts or a water park package from one of 50 participating parks in North America! Still havent found your perfect trip? Your family can enjoy a historical and cultural vacation in a unique American city such as Philadelphia, Washington, DC, Boston or New Orleans. Make your kids (and your own) dreams come true with any one of the above or more listed in the catalogue.

For the Cold-Weather Athlete If skiing is the way to a donors heart, consider all the superb ski packages Mitch-Stuart has to offer - winter wonderlands Whistler, Aspen, Vail or Telluride await with luxury accommodations, often ski-in, ski-out and the most luxurious locations. There is virtually no ski resort unexplored by our experts with other fabulous packages including visits to Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Nevada, Vermont or Wyoming and international destinations like Mont Tremblant in Quebec. Each trip is tailored to skiers at any level. Mitch-Stuart ensures incomparable experiences on and off the slopes.

For the Warm-Weather Athlete Golf or tennis? Scuba or swimming? YES, please. When you work with Mitch-Stuart you can have it all. Resort packages to the best golf in the world include the links your donors are longing for: Pinehurst on your choice of 8 championship courses, Arnold Palmer Bay Hill Club & Lodge, AAA Five-Diamond Fairmont Scottsdale Princess with two 18-hole championship courses, finally a stay at the Fairmont, and play at Old St. Andrews the most sought-after golf experience of them all!

For the World Traveler Mitch-Stuart, Inc. can send your donors to far-flung corners of the world with every detail catered to perfectly. International experiences include an exotic Indonesian escape in Bali, the exquisite beaches and cruises to the Caribbean, or fabulous jaunts to the exciting cities of Europe including a gourmet adventure in the heart of Italy and sophisticated artsy Amsterdam. In addition to these charming cities, Mitch-Stuart offers packages to London, Monte Carlo, Paris, Montreux and a safari to Africa. Your donors will want to bid on them all and isnt that the goal?

For the Gastronome According to social media experts, the most shared content today is FOOD! Photos of food and discussions of deliciousness fill Facebook feeds and occupy Instagram in huge volume. Your donors want to go gourmet and Mitch-Stuart, Inc. has the offerings! Gastronomic delights include South Beach Wine & Food Festival Southwestern and Mexican fare on trips to the gorgeous Sonoran desert, the epitome of nouvelle cuisine with your wine in Napa as well as epicurean excursions to restaurant towns like Chicago and New York. Get your passports ready for international culinary experiences such as cooking classes and wine tastings in Tuscany or Sorrento and days of dining in Paris.

With the ability to customize trips as well, the Mitch-Stuart Destinations of Excellence trips and experiences may be the only source of auction and fundraising ideas you need to plan.



Disneyland World of Color
Water Park
Skiers
Scuba Diving
London Eye
Rachael Ray South Beach Food & Wine Festival


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Event Best Practices: A Few Holiday Thoughts

October 02, 2013
Event Best Practices: A Few Holiday Thoughts

The holiday season is an important time for charitable giving and the end of the year is the most popular time for organizations to host fundraisers. Roughly a third of all annual donations are made in December. Fundraising is all about generating income for a good cause and a successful event allows for fun and rewarding ways to generate donations. Best success is achieved with careful and strategic planning.

The holidays are simply the best time to fundraise! So start early with a few event must-dos:

Thoughts on Themes


Dont be afraid to be creativeas long as its in keeping with the interests and status of your target audience andin some wayrelevant to the equity and ethos of your organization. Keep your auction event fun with a theme that will excite your donors. Black tie galas and winter wonderland themes are always nice but a fun, pop culture pleaser like a holiday movie theme can rev up your guest list (a visit to Middle Earth courtesy of Decembers Hobbit release perhaps?) Come up with a few creative ideasand test out the best with a few key board members or regular contributors to get their input and tacit approval. Once they sign on, RUN WITH IT!

The Art of the Holiday Basket

Baskets are a solid way of enticing higher levels of givingplus they can make excellent raffle prizes. Again, dont be afraid of getting creative with the contents. Go green with sustainable foods and even cooking lessons or other hot trends such as pet gift baskets, premium cigar baskets and art gift baskets. Everyone loves a basket full of goodies. Theyre great for re-gifting too!

Getaway Gifts

Consider travel packages. People love to travel, according to Travel & Leisure magazine, Of course, one thing in travel remains constant year after year: the quest for new horizons. You can offer a range of these from warm, exotic destinations to one-of-a-kind experiential trips! Look for places and packages that capture the imagination. What could be more fun at the holidays than knowing youve just won or purchased an exciting trip for yourself or your family! And doing it for a worthy cause is a win-win for everyone involved. A complete, all-inclusive package to the 2014 Super Bowl or a deluxe holiday shopping spree in NY? Surfing and scuba lessons in Maui? See these and more in our sample trips.

Keep your donors merry and be creative for your next holiday event.


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A Chocolate Lovers Guide to Travel

August 27, 2013
Google chocolate and travel and you get about 300 million results! Theres a good reason for that, with chocolate topping many favorite things to eat and travel topping many favorite things to do. Savvy organizers of fundraisers and charity auctions will want to combine these two audience pleasers.

Mitch-Stuart, Inc. offers plenty of these (guilty) pleasure trips to some serious chocolate capitals. Feast your eyes (and then your palates!) below:

San Francisco Get a true taste of the city on one of three delicious tours! Youll enjoy a spectrum of chocolate flavors on the Ultra Chocolate Tour, including French, Belgian and American chocolates, and a blind chocolate bar tasting. Top if off with a Chocolate Lover Card entitling you to discounts and VIP treatment at nearby boutiques!

Boston Bostons not just about seafood The Original Chocolate Walking Tour will take you to the best chocolate shops, bakeries and cafes near vibrant Newbury Street.

Asheville Prepare your palate for a delicious epicurean combination! Youll get to enjoy a red wine and chocolate truffle tasting! A friendly host will guide you through your tasting, and you will learn about the red wine-making process and why chocolate and red wine are considered a natural pairing.

New York The Big Apple is actually a chocoholic paradise, which hosts two of National Geographics Top 10 Best Chocolate purveyors. Read on for a sampling of some of New Yorks most amazing shrines to the cocoa bean.
  • The City Bakery specializes in hot chocolate, all year long, but particularly in Februarys month-long hot chocolate festival featuring a different special flavor daily as well as original. Considered the best by many, its rich and thick with a homemade marshmallow.
  • Vosges offers a bacon chocolate bar and a mushroom chocolate bar and chocolate covered spicy fire tortilla chips. Sounds weird yes? But very cool and different.
  • Jacques Torres is renowned for rich and delicious and hot chocolate bar. They also sell some chocolate with sex appeal such as caramel body spread etc. Something for everyone.
  • Max Brenner is on the Nat Geo list, and has a complete restaurant menu in addition to fine hand-made chocolate. They have vats of chocolate and unusual offerings such as praline waffle balls!
  • Serendipity is a must-do as they are open late and serve food and are famous for the frozen hot chocolate! The landmark offers other amazing desserts and the atmosphere is classic and cozy.
  • Magnolia Bakery is also on the Nat Geo list and is best known for its daily cupcakes with flavors such as Truffle: devils food cake and chocolate or white chocolate truffle filling covered with chocolate ganache or German chocolate cupcakes.
Let us know you travel for your chocolate fix!






Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco
Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco
Chocloate Pastries
Serendipity Hot Chocolate
Jacques Torres Chocolates


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Get Creative! Fundraiser Locations You Havent Thought Of

June 04, 2013
Been there, done that.

The last thing you want your guests to say when you are hosting a non profit auction! And it all starts with the location. Here are some outside-of-the-hotel-ballroom options you might want to consider when hosting your next charity event.

That trendy place youve been meaning to go Why not raise money in a fun and low-key, natural atmosphere? If your donors and attendees are comfortable they may be inclined to spend a little more money than they planned, which isnt a bad thing! Consider a hot club, restaurant or bar. Be sure to factor in the following:
  • Serve any signature dishes the restaurant might be famous for
  • If a bar has been around for a significant amount of time jump on its rich history, or if its known for serving a particular drink, it could be fun to let your attendees know about it
  • For a club, see if theres a famous DJ or if this venue hosts a special jazz night or other genre of music-themed night
This can be a win-win situation for your fundraiser and the owner of any of these establishments. Explain to the owner that this could be a great PR opportunity for their business and the possibility of returning patrons is too good to pass up.

Lights! Camera! Action! Similar to hosting your fundraiser at a restaurant/bar/club, a local movie or legitimate theater will also benefit from a great PR opportunity. However, the additional benefit of holding something at a theater is the venues ability to advertise the event and sell tickets. Let your guests explore a stage where great plays have unfolded -- it never hurts to be in a place of grandeur.

Go Old School No, youre not having your donors relive their senior year of college. Contact a local campus group that supports your organizations cause. Coordinate with them to seek out an interesting on-campus location and give them a chance to also support the cause. This also encourages the next generation of philanthropists.

Wheres the most creative place youve ever been for a charity auction?


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